APRIL 18 TOWN MEETING TO DISCUSS CONCENTRATION IN AGRICULTURE
SOUTH SAINT PAUL, Minn. — Consolidation in agriculture is occurring at levels
never seen before in our history, say agricultural economists and rural
sociologists. The increasing power of multinational corporations to control
farmers’ prices and market access means independent Midwestern producers are
being treated unfairly.
This is being done through price manipulation and price discrimination, said
Mark Schultz, Policy Program Director for the Land Stewardship Project.
“Farmers are being deliberately short-changed, literally,” he said. “The fact
is, there are federal laws on the books to address the corporations’
competition-killing practices. However, the federal government has failed to
enforce the law. We need to change that situation.”
On Sunday, April 18, farmers from throughout the Upper Midwest will have an
opportunity to pressure federal officials into enforcing antitrust laws and
holding the Cargills, Smithfields and ConAgras of the world accountable.
The “Town Meeting on Concentration and Monopoly in Agriculture” will begin at 1
p.m. at the Best Western Drover’s Inn, 701 South Concord Street, South Saint
Paul, Minn. (next to the Saint Paul Stockyards). For more information, call the
Land Stewardship Project, 651-653-0618. The Drover’s Inn’s number is
The meeting will feature Joel Klein, Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Antitrust
Division, and Michael Dunn, Assistant Secretary, USDA Marketing and Regulatory
Programs, Packers & Stockyards Programs.
State lawmakers from five states, working with U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone of
Minnesota, provided the impetus for the meeting. The state legislators involved
in this special meeting include: Ted Winter (Minn.), Jack Kibbie (Iowa), Frank
Klocek (S. Dak.), Cap Dierks (Neb.) and Bruce Larkin (Kan.). Also planning to
participate are U.S. Senators Kent Conrad (N. Dak.), Tom Daschle (S. Dak.),
Byron Dorgan (N. Dak.), Charles Grassley (Iowa), Tom Harkin (Iowa) and Tim
Johnson (S. Dak.)
Farmers will have an opportunity to discuss such issues as:
• The need for antitrust action in agriculture, with the Cargill acquisition of
Continental Grain serving as a case in point.
• The need for mandatory price reporting and restriction of the packers’
ownership and control of marketed livestock.
• Excessive corporate profits during the long period of terribly low farm prices
for a wide range of commodities, including corn, soybeans, hogs, cattle, wheat
“This is an excellent opportunity for farmers to make their voices heard,” said
Schultz. “We’ve got to make sure these public servants get the message that they
had better start doing their job.”
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