New study finds consolidation harms nation's consumers and farmers
February 10, 1999
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A small number of dominant "clusters" of firms control
the decision-making throughout all levels of the U.S. food chain,
threatening America's system of independent family farms and ranches,
according to a new report unveiled today by the National Farmers Union
The study, prepared by Dr. William Heffernan, a rural sociologist at the
University of Missouri, documents how linkages in the food system, through
alliances, joint ventures, partnerships, mergers and other relationships,
have formed a complex network of "clusters" of firms. Each cluster is a
vertically integrated "food chain," controlling the system from the gene to
the supermarket shelf.
"The study reveals the complex web of relationships among a handful of firms
in the food chain,"
said NFU President Leland Swenson. "The trend toward a privately centralized
food system puts
our food security in great jeopardy. Food is different than other goods and
services, and it would be
dangerous to permit a few major firms to control decision making throughout
the entire food chain.
This study should compel Congress to take action to ensure the industry
Debi Kelly, Project Manager
Missouri Alternatives Center
531 Clark Hall, Columbia, MO 65211
"There's no need to sustain the farm
if there's no family to be sustained on it."
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