WASHINGTON – Today, Family Farm Action Alliance, in partnership with Open Markets Institute, released a groundbreaking report titled, “The Food System: Concentration and Its Impacts,” at a virtual event featuring Sen. Cory Booker. The report was authored by Dr. Mary Hendrickson, Dr. Phil Howard, Emily Miller, and Dr. Douglas Constance.
Sen. Booker offered remarks about the report, stating, “Consolidation in our food system is a grave threat to our family farmers and rural communities, and this important new report from Dr. Hendrickson reinforces the urgent need for Congress to take action to address corporate concentration and create a food system that is rooted in fairness and opportunity for all.”
The event featured a conversation with Dr. Hendrickson, rural sociologist and leading food system scholar, who discussed the implications of a concentrated agrifood system. Dr. Hendrickson stated, “Even with my years of examining consolidation in the food system, I am profoundly distressed by its ecological waste, the erosion of communities, and its callous treatment of human beings. Consciously or unconsciously, we have created this system and we can change it.”
The report provides the latest updated data on agricultural market shares in the U.S. as part of a holistic and comprehensive analysis of the shortcomings of our overly concentrated food supply chain. It also includes bold proposals for decentralizing our agri-food system to move power out of the control of just a few. Highlights include:
- An updated analysis of the current state of concentration where in the U.S., the top 4 companies control 80% of soybean processing, 73% of beef processing, and 67% of pork processing; and globally, the top 4 control 65% of agrochemicals, 58% of animal pharmaceuticals, and 50% of seeds.
- The cost to the U.S. of an industrial feed-meat complex that reinforces extensive monocropping, chemical inputs, dangerous farmworker conditions, and environmental degradation for the sake of corporate profit is over $44 billion per year in soil erosion, and at least $100 million in lost farm income.
- A call for policies that democratize the agrifood system through antitrust enforcement, prioritizing racial equity, transforming and redirecting production subsidies, and empowering alternative and localized food systems and economies.
The report is founded on the premise that monopolistic control is no longer about accumulating capital or profits, but rather amassing and protecting power. These few points, among others in the report, demonstrate that concentration is a tool for corporations to maintain power and control – not to feed people.