Fair Shake for Farmers is a public awareness campaign bringing together organizations across various interests impacted by consolidation in agriculture. During the Week of Action (September 20-24, 2021), participating organizations share their experiences and concerns about having unchecked consolidation in our food system and how that negatively impacts farmers, eaters, animals, communities, and workers.
This summer, the antitrust Executive Order, “Promoting Competition in the American Economy” was signed. This was an important first step in showing commitment to increasing competition in the marketplace—specifically its implications for the agricultural sector. Now, we need you to tell Congress to support USDA’s robust agenda to promote competition in American agriculture.
Corporate consolidation cultivates injustice: Currently, only a handful of corporations control our food from farm to fork. Over the past 50 years, fewer and fewer multinational agribusiness corporations have come to control more and more of our food system, shutting out local and family farmers in the process. With unchecked power, companies have standardized exploitative practices that are harmful to farmers, to rural communities, to the animals themselves and to our environment. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Concentration is contagious: Unchecked concentration in one industry spells bad news for other industries. Massive companies are swallowing up other massive companies in questionable mergers. Multi-national grain corporations are buying up giants in the meat industry, creating vast, vertically integrated supply chains. When the corporation owns every step in the production of the final product, they can exert tremendous power over the livelihoods of the farmers, workers, and communities whose hard work brings food to our tables.
Concentration creates a culture of fear and retaliation: When companies have this much power, they can cut corners and bend the rules in their favor, even at the expense of farmers, rural communities, workers, our environment, and the consumers. In this David-and-Goliath dynamic, good people could lose everything if they speak out against unsafe practices, corruption, and injustice. For the safety and sustainability of our food system, we must break the culture of fear and retaliation in industrial agriculture. Farmers need a #FairShake
We must reset the balance of power: There’s a dramatic imbalance of power between producers and corporations. Farmers increasingly have nowhere to sell in the marketplace except to one or two companies. Unchecked consolidation and vertical integration have created this imbalance and allowed corporations to manipulate the marketplace, push down the prices paid to farmers and ranchers, and drive independent producers out of business.
We must reclaim basic rights and safe working conditions: Vertical integration and concentration disempowers workers and farmers alike, across multiple sectors at once. While profits become concentrated, farmers and workers take on the risks – such as ever increasing debt, and dangerous and unsafe working conditions – with very limited enforceable rights. We must restore basic rights for dignity, safety and wellbeing in the workplace.