Food and farm policy rarely plays a major role in US presidential elections. But Democratic hopefuls Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders may be about to change that. In a Medium post published Wednesday, Warren laid out a populist plan to shake up the American system of food production. As I have been writing for years, the companies that sell farmers seeds, chemicals, and tractors have been consolidating into fewer and ever more massive entities. So have the firms that buy farmers’ goods, such as grain traders, meat companies, and supermarkets. Farmers, meanwhile, have seen the prices they receive for their products—and their profits—wither away. “It all starts with attacking consolidation in the agriculture sector head on,” Warren declared. “We must give family farmers more options and more bargaining power in the marketplace so they can build more economic security.” And she put some bold specifics behind that rhetoric. “I will appoint trustbusters to review—and reverse—anti-competitive mergers,” she vowed, specifically name-checking German chemical giant Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of US seed/pesticide giant Monsanto, which was approved by US antitrust authorities last year. She also issued a warning to the meat industry, whose reliance on tying farmers into punishing contracts and government-backed… Read full this story
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