Who controls our food?

February 27, 2012

Food, Health Concerns, Political

Despite the promise of cheaper food that is supposed to result from increased concentration, USDA data shows that the cost of food to consumers has risen steadily since the 1980s.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice are holding a series of five public workshops throughout 2010 to address issues of concentration, antitrust violations and competition in agriculture.

A small number of corporations now control American agriculture. Never before has the safety and sustainability of our food supply depended upon the decisions of so few people. Most economic sectors have concentration ratios hovering around 40 percent, meaning that the top four firms in the industry control 40 percent of the market. Agriculture far exceeds those safe ratios.

The Sherman Antitrust and Clayton acts exist to prevent excess power in the marketplace. However, particularly in the agricultural sector, enforcement of these laws has been virtually nonexistent in the last 10 years. What is more, the laws generally are blind to the peculiar nature of some agricultural markets, where one firm can dominate in a rural area or region, even if it does not control a large share of the market nationally.

Despite the promise of cheaper food that is supposed to result from increased concentration, USDA data shows that the cost of food to consumers has risen steadily since the 1980s. The system also narrows consumer choice and presents barriers to accessing locally grown, organic, sustainable and family farm-identified food.

 

Sources: Food and Water Watch and Farm Aid.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 29, Number 2, Apr/May 2010.

 

CHRT WITH ARTICLE page 24, AprilMay 10

 

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