A proposed bill would temporarily halt the merger of large food and agribusiness corporations. The proposal also seeks to increase competition in the market to support better prices for farmers and ranchers.
The Booker-Pocan Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019, was announced Wednesday, May 22, 2019. The bill was introduced by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and Representative Mark Pocan (D-WI).
“Capitalism only works if you have competition,” Tester said.
A broad-based coalition of 219 farm, food, rural, faith and consumer advocacy organizations delivered a letter to Congress Wednesday endorsing the food and agribusiness merger moratorium bills. Notable groups supporting the legislation include the Organization for Competitive Markets, National Farmers Union, National Family Farm Coalition and Food & Water Watch.
The proposal would initiate a moratorium on large agriculture, food and beverage manufacturing and grocery retail mergers to allow time to assess the impact corporate consolidation has on farmers, workers, consumers and communities. It also recommends improvements to antitrust enforcement. The bills were also introduced in the House and Senate in 2018.
In the past thirty years, the top four firms in cattle slaughter, pork packing, corn processing, and seed production have come to control between 60 and 85 percent of their markets. A large part of that is due to a trend of corporate consolidation through multi-billion-dollar mergers.
The Booker-Pocan bill would put a strategic pause on merger combinations of over $160 million in sales or assets and establish a commission to study the impacts of consolidation in the food and agricultural sectors on farmers, rural communities, workers and consumers. The commission would also recommend any necessary changes to federal antitrust statutes or other laws and regulations to restore a fair and competitive agricultural marketplace.