NSAC's Blog

DoJ-USDA Workshop on Farmer & Rancher Margins

December 2, 2010

The fifth and final Department of Justice/USDA workshop on concentration and competition issues in agriculture will be held in Washington D.C. on December 8, 2010.  These five workshops are intended to examine in detail the impacts on U.S  farmers and ranchers as fewer and larger corporations have gained control of markets for agricultural inputs and markets for purchasing or processing agricultural products.

The December workshop will focus on “margins” – looking at the discrepancies between the prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumer.  As a concluding event, discussions from previous workshops will be incorporated into the analysis of U.S. agriculture markets.

Many U.S. farmers and ranchers are facing shrinking incomes and a decreasing share of the food dollar paid by consumers, even at times when consumer prices for the food products is holding steady or rising.  Farm inputs, such as fertilizer and seed, are controlled by increasingly few large corporations, with price spikes in these inputs a regular occurrence.   Many farmers and ranchers are also finding fewer buyers for their products who offer low purchase prices, even at times when consumer prices for these products is holding steady or rising.  As a result, farmers and ranchers face narrow margins, with many years where they are not receiving the costs of production.

You can find more information for the December 8 workshop and register for the workshop through the DoJ-USDA workshop website.  Note that the Department of Justice is also continuing to take public comments on all the topics covered in the five workshops held this year until the conclusion of the December 8 workshop.  Information on submitting comments is also provided on the workshop website.

Some of the issues covered in the workshops were included in a regulation proposed by USDA’s Grain Inspection Packers & Stockyards Act (GSIPA).   The proposed regulation defined and clarified the protections under the Packers & Stockyards Act for livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in their dealings with packers and processors.  Last week, NSAC submitted our comment in support of the GIPSA proposed regulation and along with 135 organizations, including 30 NSAC members, signed onto a comment letter in support of the proposed regulation.

Categories: Competition & Anti-trust

Comments are closed.