concentration

Cattle market reformers see resistance from big ag groups

A band of senators from the Midwest and northern Plains, with the best chance in years to inject transparency into the consolidated cattle market, pressed on Tuesday for a federal mandate for meatpackers to buy more cattle for cash, rather than through obscure formulas. "We need some sunlight," said Montana Sen. Jon Tester.

$250 million in USDA grants to boost fertilizer output

The Agriculture Department will launch a $250-million-dollar grant program this summer to support "independent, innovative and sustainable" fertilizer production at home and to reduce reliance on imports. The USDA also said it would launch a public inquiry into concentration in the seed and agricultural input, fertilizer and retail markets.

White House points inflation finger at meatpackers

Grocery prices are climbing at their fastest pace since 2008, with beef, pork and poultry leading the way — up nearly 13 percent since last November, said the government's new inflation report. The White House pinned the blame for surging meat prices on meatpackers "taking advantage of their market power to raise prices while increasing their own profit margins."

Cattle reformers in Senate unite on price discovery bill

In order to increase market transparency, four senators said on Tuesday they would file legislation to require meatpackers to buy a portion of their slaughter cattle on the cash market. The bill also would create a contract library that discloses the purchase terms that packers offer for cattle, so producers might know if a fair price is being offered.

Loan guarantees for ‘middle of the supply chain’

The USDA will create a $100 million loan-guarantee program to expand processing capacity in the meat industry and improve the infrastructure of the food chain, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Monday. The program is "focused on the middle of the supply chain," he said, such as mobile processing units, new cold storage equipment and formation of cooperatives to gather, process and market farm goods.

USDA puts into action its pledge to expand meat industry capacity

Three months ago, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the USDA would commit $500 million to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and create a more competitive livestock market. "I believe it is going to leverage literally billions of dollars in investment from investors and local governments," said Vilsack at a meat locker plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

More competition in meatpacking or ‘bust them up,’ senators are told

With four companies dominating the meat industry, Congress and federal regulators must intervene to assure that livestock farmers get a fair price from processors or “if need be, bust them up,” the president of the National Farmers Union said at a Senate hearing on Wednesday. It was the …

USDA is given large role in Biden plan to restore competition

Siding with farm activists, President Biden said "Big Ag is is putting a squeeze on farmers" and signed an executive order telling the USDA to rejuvenate the livestock, seed, fertilizer and retail food markets. The executive order on competition, reaching from the FDA to the Pentagon, called on the FTC to enact right-to-repair rules so farmers can fix their own tractors rather than take them to the dealership when software malfunctions.

Vilsack: Stronger rules on the way for fair play in livestock marketing

The USDA will propose three rules to give cattle, hog and poultry producers more leverage in dealing with meat processors in an increasingly concentrated industry, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The initiatives would make it easier for a producer to prove unfair treatment by a processor and would write a new regulation on use of so-called tournament systems by processors to determine pay for poultry farmers.

Vilsack aims for ‘transformational change’ in strengthening U.S. food system

The Biden administration earmarked $4 billion on Tuesday to strengthen the U.S. food system, including an expansion of local and regional food processing capacity. Aiming to increase competition, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said he hoped to see "new entries" in the highly concentrated processing sector.

Senate bill would require cash sales of some cattle

To ensure fair prices for cattle producers, the USDA would require meatpackers to buy a specified number of cattle on the spot market and through negotiated "grid" trades under a Senate bill introduced on Tuesday. The bill, similar to legislation filed in September 2020, was backed by the American Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Cattlemen's Association.

A rural political issue Democrats have so far ignored — ag consolidation

From meat packers to seed companies,  farm equipment to agrochemicals, the agriculture industry has become increasingly concentrated, leaving farmers with few options when it comes to buying inputs or selling their commodities. This has also become a potent political issue in rural areas, but …

Cattle group proposes more transparency in market prices

As an antidote for the dwindling cash market, the largest U.S. cattle group circulated a plan on Tuesday for meatpackers to voluntarily buy cattle on the spot market to assure fair and open prices, with the threat of mandatory disclosure if the systems fails. The so-called 75 percent plan by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association stood as an alternative to bills in Congress to require packers to buy as many as half of their slaughter cattle for cash.

Dairy Farmers of America wins bid for Dean Foods

The milk cooperative Dairy Farmers of America has entered into an agreement to buy most of milk processor Dean Foods’ assets as part of the latter’s bankruptcy proceedings. If approved, the $433 million deal will make DFA both the largest milk supplier and the largest milk processor in the country.

Justice Dept. intervenes in major poultry price-fixing case

The Department of Justice intervened Friday in a landmark price-fixing suit against the country’s biggest poultry companies, possibly signaling that its own grand jury investigation into the chicken sector could result in criminal indictments. The DOJ asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to stop discovery in the class-action lawsuit brought by food distributor Maplevale Farm, saying in its motion that “a limited stay is needed to protect the grand jury’s investigation.”

Beef packing merger threatens last competitive cash cattle market in U.S.

Last month, the nation’s fourth-largest beef packer, National Beef, announced plans to take over Sysco-owned Iowa Premium, a regional packer focused on processing Black Angus steers for the Upper Midwest. National Beef is majority-owned by the Brazilian firm Marfrig. (No paywall)

Dow-DuPont merger stays on track, says its ag leader

The man that would lead the agriculture division created by the merger of U.S. giants Dow and DuPont says the companies expect to close the merger by the end of this year despite ongoing antitrust reviews, said DTN.

Grassley to hold hearing on ag concentration

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Glassley of Iowa said he would hold hearings next month on "a wave of consolidation among seed and chemical producers, including the merger of Dow and DuPont," the Des Moines Register reported. The announcement came one day after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the $43 billion merger of ChemChina and Swiss-based Syngenta, which has significant operations in the United States.

Block Dow-DuPont merger, groups ask Justice Department

The Justice Department should block the Dow-DuPont merger, which would create the largest seed and ag chemical company in the world, because it would unduly reduce competition in the sector, say a trio of legal, farm and consumer groups. The merger is part of a wave of consolidations that would turn the world's six biggest seed and ag chemical companies — Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, Dow and BASF — into "a Big 4, dominated by a Monsanto-Bayer and Dow-DuPont duopoly," said the groups in a letter to regulators.

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