On the eve of the final Department of Justice/Department of Agriculture public workshop examining the effects of corporate concentration in food and agriculture, Farm Aid joined with farm and food activists to submit almost a quarter of a million petitions calling on both the Justice Department and the USDA to take swift action to curb the abusive market power that a handful of corporations exert over farmers and consumers.
Throughout 2010, the Department of Justice and the USDA have jointly held public workshops across the country to gather information about competition issues in agriculture. Farm Aid has attended each of the four workshops held so far, focused on the seed, poultry, dairy and livestock industries. Farm Aid staff will also attend the fifth and final workshop tomorrow, which looks at margins, or the difference between what we pay at the grocery store and the price farmers receive for their goods.
Farm Aid's executive director Carolyn Mugar said, "[The promising new initiatives to expand access to good, farm-fresh food] can't get very far if family farmers continue to be driven out of business by big corporations who wield unchecked power over the market. The companies that dominate control of processing, meatpacking, and retailing largely determine what farmers are paid for their products and the prices people pay at the grocery store. It's time we leveled the playing field, bringing fairness to family farmers and eaters alike."
To read the entire press release, click here.
Thanks to all of you who submitted comments on this important issue! We'll keep you informed as the Departments of Justice and Agriculture announce the steps they'll take to address what they've heard from farmers and consumers.
It's not too late to raise your voice for fair farm policies and farmers and eaters! If you're in DC and want to attend the workshop or tonight's Supper from the Family Farm and Farmer and Consumer Forum, check out Alicia's blog from yesterday for all the info!