Food & Power – Milk Monopolists Discuss Merger; Rebalancing Power in Food Labor Markets

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Amid National Dairy Crisis, Milk Monopolists Discuss Fire-Sale Merger

Dean Foods, America’s largest dairy processor, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, citing declining milk consumption. The producer of Dairy Pure, TruMoo, Land O’ Lakes, and more than 50 other brands also announced that it is in advanced talks to sell to Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a cooperative that handles roughly 30 percent of all raw milk in the United States.

The merger raises concerns for dairy farmers, who have brought several class-action antitrust suits against DFA for its monopolistic control over raw milk markets and for collusion… with Dean Foods.

A Dean Foods-DFA merger would expand DFA’s control over raw milk markets and put the co-op in a dominant position to raise milk prices for consumers and lower prices paid to farmers, at a time when dairy farms are going under at a historic clip.

Read Claire Kelloway’s full story in the Washington Monthly here.

Radically Restructuring Food Labor Markets


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Corporate power, employer collusion, and an overwhelmingly disenfranchised immigrant workforce define food and agricultural labor markets today.

Without the same legal protections, many workers across the food chain fear speaking out about abuse on the job and hazardous conditions. And without addressing employer cartels and dominant buyers, employers can avoid competing for workers and​ feel pressure to cut wages from powerful processors and retailers.

Fairness for food workers requires a radical rebalancing of power, including extending basic legal rights long denied to many food chain workers and cracking down on employer exploitation and corporate consolidation.

Read Open Markets Legal Director, Sandeep Vaheesan, and Claire Kelloway’s full analysis in The American Prospect here.

What We’re Reading

· Leah Douglas details conflicts in rural Wisconsin, where communities are divided over opposing CAFO construction. (The Food & Environment Reporting Network)

· Brazil’s Marfrig will increase its ownership stake in the U.S.’s fourth-largest beef packer, National Beef Packing, from 51 percent to 81.7 percent. (Food Dive)

· Anheuser-Busch will buy the Craft Brew Alliance for $321 million, absorbing craft brands including Kona Brewing Co., Widmer Brothers, and Red Hook. (Reuters)

· City officials in New York City and Los Angeles have called to boycott corporations like JBS and Cargill that profit from fires in the Amazon. (The New Food Economy)


About the Open Markets Institute

The Open Markets Institute promotes political, industrial, economic, and environmental resilience. We do so by documenting and clarifying the dangers of extreme consolidation, and by fostering discussions of ways to reestablish America’s political economy on a more stable and fair foundation.

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Written by Claire Kelloway
Edited by Phil Longman, Matt Buck, Sandeep Vaheesan, and Krista Brown.

Open Markets Institute
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Washington D.C., 20010