One thing we know: concentrated economic power creates concentrated political power, allowing giant corporations to invest growing sums of money into influencing our government and tilting laws and rules in their favor at our expense.
Over the last four decades, multinational corporations have unconstitutionally amassed undue influence over the U.S. economy, stifling competition in markets and harming all of us: farmers, workers, consumers, small businesses and our Main Streets, urban and rural.
And, especially witnessed since the pandemic, monopolistic corporations and centralized and concentrated markets expose consumers to the risks of brittle, unresponsive supply chains, such as shortages of essential goods and increased prices.
New merger guidelines
On July 17, at the direction of President Joe Biden's Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission responded and announced proposed new guidelines on corporate megamergers that could negatively impact competition.
At the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, we’ve been demanding this policy change for literally decades.
The issue of consolidation in agriculture markets is at the center of many of the challenges for rural America and what U.S. and Missouri family farmers have been living with for entirely too long and face every day as they struggle to maintain economically viable farming operations.
Consolidation raises input costs for farmers, reduces farm-gate prices for crops and livestock, restricts consumer choice and contributes to a widening farm-to-retail price spread. A handful of companies controlling most food markets results in economic extraction, hitting rural communities especially hard. We see it every day as consumers experience rapid price inflation while these food companies continue to report record profits, quarter over quarter.
Want more reasons why we need to stop additional consolidation? Here you go: Monopolistic control of markets is a threat to our fight for representative democracy. When too much economic and political power is concentrated in too few hands, we risk losing the “republican form of government” the Constitution requires.
Call to action
So, what can we do about it? Demand and support good policy changes when we see them – and then demand more. It’s easy to make a comment on the proposed rule to stop corporate megamergers on the MRCC website: MoRural.org. [Editor’s note: The federal comments period runs through Sept. 18.]
As we make demands for better government (we need it to be much better), we have to make sure we say a resounding yes when elected representatives make good policies. And this – addressing corporate megamergers in our food system – is vital for our food and national security both now and into the future.
Tim Gibbons is communication director for the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, a statewide farm and rural membership and advocacy organization. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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