In Wisconsin, Farmers Fight Effort to Weaken Cooperatives; GIPSA Rules Killed by USDA

Posted Leah Douglas Leah Douglas, Newsletter

Photo from chefranden on Flickr.  In Wisconsin, some of the state’s biggest agricultural cooperatives want to weaken farmers’ control over their own cooperatives. Farmers in the state argue that the changes–in the form of amendments to the state agricultural laws–are simply meant to enhance the power of larger-scale cooperatives, and stray from the true intent and […]

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Secretary Vilsack’s Chicken Rules May Come Too Late to Help Farmers

Posted Leah Douglas Chicken, Leah Douglas, Newsletter

Photo from Flickr user scrap_pile. The Department of Agriculture last week finally proposed rules to protect poultry farmers from abusive and discriminatory practices by giant chicken processing companies. Called the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, the new rules come 6 years after the Obama Administration first attempted to regulate the industry, then retreated under heavy pressure from […]

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As Dairy Prices Tumble, Farmers are Angered by Minimal USDA Support

Posted Leah Douglas Dairy, Leah Douglas, Newsletter

Photo from Flickr user chriswaits. Dairy farmers in the Northeast and Midwest are dumping massive quantities of milk, as a sharp decline in exports has driven milk prices down to a seven-year low. Meanwhile, independent farmers and members of Congress say that a new USDA insurance program designed to keep struggling dairy farmers in business is failing […]

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Consolidation Is Eating Our Food Economy

Posted Leah Douglas Leah Douglas, Mergers & Acquisitions

A generation ago, America’s farm and food economy was dominated by small family enterprises. Today, just four companies control 65 percent of pork slaughter, 84 percent of cattle slaughter, and 53 percent of chicken slaughter. Milk production is largely shaped by one large processor, Dean Foods, and one large cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America. Recent mergers, such as the Brussels-based Delhaize’s (Food Lion) acquisition of the Dutch company Ahold (Giant, Stop & Shop), have reduced the number of large grocers down to four. What does all this consolidation mean for our food economy?