With relocation, ERS losing top expert on consolidation

Thanks to the Trump administration’s decision to move the agency out of Washington, the USDA’s Economic Research Service is losing its top expert on market consolidation at a time when declining competition in agriculture is under increased scrutiny from policymakers and government officials.(No paywall)

Dairy farmers may have to get big to survive, says Perdue

In a state losing two dairy farms a day, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday that it’s hard to make a living with a small herd of cows. The “economies of scale having happened in America—big get bigger and small go out,” Perdue said at a dairy show in Wisconsin, …

As dairy industry reels, new film details one family’s struggle to make it work

“Farmsteaders” is a new documentary that tells the story of Celeste and Nick Nolan and their four young children, who run Laurel Valley Creamery in southeastern Ohio. The 110-acre dairy farm belonged to Nick’s grandfather, who died in an accident on the farm in 1994. In the years since, agriculture has continued to move away from small operations like the Nolans’ to the sprawling industrial farms that dominate today. The dairy industry, in particular, has been decimated by consolidation, resulting in the collapse of family farms and a spate of suicides as farmers become increasingly desperate. In 2001, Celeste and Nick moved to the farm to raise their kids. They hobby-farmed for a few years, but when Nick lost his job they began farming full-time, turning to cheesemaking to sustain the operation.(No paywall)

How buying Monsanto tanked Bayer

The 2016 acquisition by Bayer of seed and chemical giant Monsanto has turned out to be a rotten deal. Shares in the German company have fallen 30 percent since the $63 billion deal closed, and are now at just 50 percent of their value in 2015, when the company was Germany’s most valuable.

What a dairy cooperative merger could mean for farmers in the Northeast

Members of the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery, a century-old dairy cooperative in Vermont, will vote later this month on whether to merge with the nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America. But even as low milk prices and ongoing consolidation have threatened the region’s dairy farmers, St. Albans’ members are split on whether linking up with DFA will address their woes.

Catch shares lead to consolidation of Alaskan fisheries

A recent study documenting consolidation and specialization in Alaska’s fisheries over the past three decades illustrates a broader trend taking hold in coastal communities across the country. Catch share programs, a new fisheries management system, are turning fishing rights into tradable commodities, driving up the cost to fish and consolidating fishing rights into the hands of a few wealthy owners. For instance, in Alaska’s Bering Sea crab fishery, just four companies own 77 percent of the rights to fish a single crab species.

Think tank proposes ‘farmer protection bureau’ to battle ag consolidation

America’s family farmers increasingly are out-muscled by large agribusinesses in trying to make a living, said the think tank Center for American Progress on Tuesday. It called on Congress to create an Independent Farmer Protection Bureau with offices nationwide to even the fight by …

Sanders calls for ag trust-busters, large government role in farming

Fundamental change in U.S. agricultural and rural policy is "an absolute necessity," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday in calling for Teddy "Roosevelt-style trust-busting laws to stop monopolization of markets and break up massive agribusinesses." In a position paper, Sanders, pursuing the Democratic nomination for president, endorsed supply management — federal control over farm production — higher minimum prices for major commodities such as grain and milk and a return to a government-owned grain reserve "to alleviate the need for government subsidies and ensure we have a food supply in case of extreme weather events."

Big Ag says Sen. Warren’s proposals ‘miss the mark’

After a week in which Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who's running for president, was in the spotlight for her call to check the power of big agribusiness and "level the playing field for America's family farmers," Big Ag began to hit back, insisting her ideas are out of touch with reality.  

Representative introduces bill for moratorium on agribusiness mergers

Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat, introduced a bill yesterday that would impose a temporary moratorium on large agribusiness and food industry mergers. The bill is a companion to legislation introduced last month in the Senate by New Jersey’s Cory Booker.