FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 22, 2019
Jean Lemire Dahlman, Forsyth, MT rancher and Northern Plains Resource Council member, (406) 351-9921
Dustin Ogdin, Communications Director, Northern Plains, (406) 248-1154
Maggie Gordon, Organizer, Northern Plains, (406) 248-1154
Bill placing moratorium on agribusiness mergers introduced in U.S. Congress
Legislation seeks to address structural disadvantages imposed on family farms and ranches
BILLINGS, Mont – Today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI) announced the Booker-Pocan Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019. The law would initiate a pause in food and agribusiness mergers in order to assess the impact corporate consolidation has on farmers, workers, consumers, and communities. The legislation would also create processes for recommending improvements to antitrust enforcement. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) is a co-sponsor of the bill.
“Failure to enforce antitrust protections has been hurting Montana agricultural producers for decades. Finally, Congress has taken notice of how corporate consolidation has diminished the vitality of rural communities across America,” said Jean Lemire Dahlman, Forsyth, MT rancher and member of Northern Plains Resource Council. “We are pleased to see that some members of Congress want to examine how family farmers and ranchers are being squeezed from both our suppliers and our buyers.”
The bill cites several statistics to establish the need for this moratorium. In the past thirty years, the top four firms in each industry have come to control 85% of cattle slaughter, 71% of pork packing, 86% of corn processing, and 60% of the seed supply. As a result, farmers now only receive about 14 cents for every dollar spent at the grocery store. Net farm income has declined by half since 2013, and now half of all farmers have negative on-farm income.
“The vast power these corporations have is unsustainable and threatens the very concept of independent agriculture,” continued Dahlman. “I don’t know who’s going to grow our food, but it won’t be your family farmers and ranchers for much longer unless we take steps to restore competition and fairness in our markets.”
Northern Plains Resource Council is a grassroots conservation and family agriculture group that organizes Montanans to protect our water quality, family farms and ranches, and unique quality of life.
Western Organization of Resource Councils
220 S. 27th Street, Suite B | Billings, MT 59101