Friday, March 12, 2010

Dept. of Justice & Dept. of Agriculture Workshops to examine corporate concentration in agriculture

JenToday, an historic event is taking place among the corn and soybean fields of Iowa: The Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture is kicking off its series of public workshops examining corporate concentration and antitrust violations in agriculture. If you can't be there, but want to add your voice to the discussion, take action here.

Agriculture is one of the most concentrated industries, to the detriment of family farmers and all of us eaters. For decades, there has been little or no oversight over agribusiness mergers and buyouts, leading us to the place we are today — where one company controls 93% off the soybeans and 80% of the corn grown in the United States. And this concentration is not just limited to seeds — it pervades our entire food system, from livestock to poultry to dairy to food retailers.

Today's workshop looks specifically at the issue of seeds and farmers will be well-represented (although they'll be outnumbered more than 2 to 1 by politicians!). But to make sure that all farmers get a chance to tell their story, food and farm organizations have organized additional events to give the media and people concerned about our food system an opportunity to hear from many farmers.

Last night's "Taking on Corporate Power in our Food System: A Town Hall Meeting" in Ankeny, Iowa brought out more than 250 farmers and activists who chanted "Bust the trust" and strategize about how best to tell the story of how corporate concentration and lax anti-trust enforcement has hurt family farmers and all of us eaters.

Today, Farm Aid and the Center for Food Safety will co-host a lunch for folks at the workshop, featuring farm-fresh food and stories from farmers who have been impacted by concentration in the seed business.

Our very own Joel Morton is there in Iowa and we'll have a complete recap from him, as well as footage from the workshop.

For more information about the workshop in Iowa and future workshops, click here.

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