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Democratic White House contender Warren targets corporate agriculture

Democratic White House contender Warren targets corporate agriculture

Postby smix » Wed Mar 27, 2019 8:55 pm

Democratic White House contender Warren targets corporate agriculture
Reuters

URL: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa- ... SKCN1R81UE
Category: Politics
Published: March 27, 2019

Description: WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Elizabeth Warren took aim on Wednesday at agricultural conglomerates, promising her administration would break up big agribusiness mergers that she said have hurt family farmers.

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Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and a fierce Wall Street critic, released a broad plan that she said would make it easier for small farmers to survive in the face of growing corporate consolidation in the rural economy. She singled out several big agriculture corporations, naming Tyson Food Inc, Bayer-Monsanto and Dow-DuPont, and said the Bayer-Monsanto merger should not have been approved. Under her plan, regulators would review “anti-competitive” agricultural mergers and break up integrated businesses that control many different levels of the farming chain and markets. “We can make better policy choices  —  and we can begin by leveling the playing field for America’s family farmers,” Warren wrote in a Medium blog post outlining her proposal. Warren released the plan ahead of a campaign trip to Iowa, a farm state that kicks off the Democratic presidential nominating contest in February 2020. During her visit, she will participate in a Democratic policy forum on rural issues as the party searches for ways to reverse Republican President Donald Trump’s crushing win over Democrat Hillary Clinton in rural areas in 2016. Earlier this month, Warren also proposed breaking up big tech companies such as Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc to promote competition in the technology sector. She has made her populist economic message the heart of her campaign in a growing Democratic field of contenders, arguing the economy is rigged for corporations and the wealthy. “Bad decisions in Washington have consistently favored the interests of multinational corporations and big business lobbyists over the interests of family farmers,” Warren said in her agricultural proposal. “Mergers mean that farmers have fewer and fewer choices for buying and selling, while vertical integration has meant that big agribusinesses face less competition throughout the chain and thus capture more and more of the profits,” she said. Warren’s plan also would end “contract farming” by conglomerates, create a national right-to-repair law that allows farmers to repair their own equipment or take it to a mechanic of their choice instead of an authorized agent, and establish country-of-origin rules to require beef and pork producers to label where their livestock was raised and slaughtered.
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Warren unveils plan to target corporate agriculture

Postby smix » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:53 pm

Warren unveils plan to target corporate agriculture
The Hill

URL: https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/4 ... griculture
Category: Politics
Published: March 27, 2019

Description: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday unveiled plans to target corporate agricultural, pledging to break up monopolies and support family farmers, as part of her 2020 presidential campaign platform. Warren, in a statement outlining her proposal, criticized federal regulators for having "consistently favored the interests of multinational corporations and big business lobbyists over the interests of family farmers." She pledged to "address consolidation in the agriculture sector," something she said is "leaving family farmers with fewer choices, thinner margins, and less independence." Warren pointed specifically to Tyson, Dow-Dupont and Syngenta-ChemChina, saying regulators have allowed companies like them "to crush competition and seize control over key markets." Her plan was first revealed exclusively to the Des Moines Register, a newspaper in Iowa, which is home to a significant agriculture industry and will also kick off the presidential nominating contests with the Iowa caucuses next year.

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Warren said she would appoint "trustbusters" to review and reverse "anti-competitive mergers" and said she would commit to breaking up "big agribusinesses that have become vertically integrated and that control more and more of the market." She also said in her proposal that the changes she plans to make to the agriculture industry go beyond consolidation. "Consolidation is choking family farms, but there’s a whole lot of other ways in which big business has rigged the rules in their favor and against family farmers. I will fight to change those rules," Warren wrote in a Medium post. The Massachusetts senator said she would support a "national right-to-repair law" that would enable farmers to fix their equipment without being forced to rely on an authorized agent. She also said she would support a law that would restrict foreign ownership of U.S. agriculture companies and farmland. "I want Washington to work for family farmers again, not just for the agribusiness executives pocketing multi-million dollar bonuses or the Wall Street traders sitting at their desks speculating on the price of commodities," Warren said in the statement. "I want family farmers to be fairly rewarded for their hard work. That is how we build an economy that works for everyone."
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Warren Takes Aim at Farm Programs That Brought You ‘Got Milk?’

Postby smix » Wed Mar 27, 2019 10:49 pm

Warren Takes Aim at Farm Programs That Brought You ‘Got Milk?’
Bloomberg News

URL: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... ly-farmers
Category: Politics
Published: March 27, 2019

Description: As part of her presidential platform, Elizabeth Warren is not just taking on big agriculture corporations like Bayer AG and Tyson Foods Inc. She’s also going after checkoff programs, which do marketing campaigns for commodities. Slogans like “Got Milk?”, “Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner,” and “Pork: The Other White Meat” are what’s at stake. By law, growers pay a portion of their sales into checkoffs, which then promote the commodities. But that process is rigged against family farmers, the Democratic presidential candidate wrote in a Medium posting Wednesday that detailed her plans for U.S. agriculture. The checkoffs are corrupt and need reform, Warren said. They’ve been used to “squeeze out competition,” she said, and boards overseeing the funds have used them to pay lobbyists to “benefit large agribusinesses.” Payments into checkoffs should be voluntary rather than mandatory, she said. Beef, pork, dairy, chicken, egg, corn and even Christmas-tree producers are among the crops that have checkoff programs.
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Re: Warren Takes Aim at Farm Programs That Brought You ‘Got Milk?’

Postby samurai » Thu Mar 28, 2019 12:44 am



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D E M O C R A T S

Betty's Agricultural Revolution

warren-got-beer.jpg

Psst: What would Karl Marx drink?

warren-got-milk.jpg

Got Milk?

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Big agriculture fights back against Sen. Elizabeth Warren's call to break up industry

Postby smix » Sun Apr 07, 2019 5:53 pm

Big agriculture fights back against Sen. Elizabeth Warren's call to break up industry
CNBC

URL: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/05/big-agr ... ustry.html
Category: Politics
Published: April 5, 2019

Description: Sen. Elizabeth Warren's call to break up big agriculture has stirred a debate, but industry groups are fighting back, with one group saying her "proposals seriously miss the mark." "You've got these giant corporations that are making bigger and bigger profits for themselves, for their executives, for their investors, and they're putting the squeeze on family farms, on small farms," the Democratic presidential hopeful told attendees at the Heartland Forum in Storm Lake, Iowa, on Saturday. "Twenty years ago, 600 different outfits were selling seed; today it's basically six." The senator also released a policy post on Medium last week that focused on "leveling the playing field for America's family farmers." But big agribusiness groups suggest Warren's policy proposals are detached from reality and say what's needed is a focus on growing exports, not adding regulations.

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The Massachusetts Democrat has criticized "immense market power" created by mergers and expansion, targeting seed giants, big chicken companies and meat processors. The Democrat also has vowed to install "trustbusters to review — and reverse — anti-competitive mergers." "We disagree with the premise and the policies outlined," said Jim Monroe, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, a trade group. "The U.S. pork production system is the envy of the world. It is also highly export dependent. What U.S. pork producers and the other American farm families need are expanded export opportunities, not more regulations." Warren has also been critical of the government's commodity checkoff programs, funded by farmers, that are used to promote products such as soybeans, milk, beef and pork. She backs a bill, reintroduced last week by a bipartisan group of senators, to reform the commodity programs and wants farmer checkoff payments to be voluntary. She said the system is now "rigged against family farmers." "If Senator Warren's goal is to help cattle farmers and ranchers, her policy proposals seriously miss the mark," said Colin Woodall, senior vice president of government affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a trade group. "The ideas she outlines are nothing more than recycled policies promoted by some of the leading opponents of animal agriculture." Warren's campaign did not respond to CNBC's request for comment. Warren also targeted recent mergers involving Bayer-Monsanto, Dow-Dupont and Syngenta-ChemChina — companies supplying seeds and other products to farmers. She singled out those companies last week in her policy post and called for the breakup of big agricultural mergers. "Agriculture is a complex and highly competitive industry, and there are hundreds of companies driving innovation and competing for farmers' business," said Christi Dixon, a Bayer spokesperson. "After a robust global regulatory review process, we brought together two talented teams and a robust portfolio to offer more choices for farmers." Dow referred inquiries to the industry trade group. Syngenta declined comment. "Much of the consolidation we have seen in recent years is the result of the need and desire of our members to continue to innovate and invest in new, more targeted technologies," said Chris Novak, president and CEO of CropLife America, a biotech industry trade group. Novak said companies require on average more than 11 years and some $300 million to bring a chemistry product to market. But the considerable time and hefty outlay needed to go through the regulatory process make it tough for small companies to make these investments, he said. "Through the consolidation process, we have seen divestiture of assets that has allowed other companies to acquire new and more diverse portfolios," he said. "This has created a more competitive marketplace." Warren's policy paper said the two biggest seed makers, Monsanto and DuPont, together had just over 70 percent market share of the corn seed market before they were acquired. She said "conservative estimates" have the merged Bayer-Monsanto with "more than 37 percent" domestic market share of the vegetable seed market and "more than half of the market for some vegetables." The National Farmers Union, a group representing family farmers, sides with Warren. The group is concerned about the impact of recent industry deals and testified against the three big seed mergers when they were still pending. "When you get to a place in a sector of the economy where 40 to 50 percent of that business volume is represented by four or fewer players, you have by definition what most economists would say is a non-competitive [market], or at least a market that is less competitive than it ought to be," said Roger Johnson, president of the group. Johnson said farmers' choice is more limited due to the mergers. He also said agricultural producers are "getting squeezed on both" ends by paying more than they should for products and getting lower prices when selling their commodities "because of highly concentrated markets that are paying less to us."
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