MFU encourages farmers to comment on FTC-DOJ guidelines

Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) President Gary Wertish released the following statement on the updated merger guidelines proposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) today.

“For decades farmers and rural communities have been increasingly squeezed by corporate monopolies,” Wertish said. “Updating the existing merger guidelines is a critical step in reigning in powerful corporations and creating a level playing field for farmers, workers and other small business owners.”

The FTC-DOJ merger guidelines reflect the agencies’ interpretation of antitrust law and explain the kinds of mergers the FTC and DOJ will challenge. The first merger guidelines were written in 1968 and have received occasional updates and changes since. The new revisions can be found here and individuals can submit comments on the revisions here. The public comment period will close on Sept. 18, 2023.

“MFU will be reviewing the guidelines and submitting comments and I encourage farmers to provide comments too so that antitrust enforcement agencies understand the conditions on the ground in rural communities and within agriculture,” Wertish said.

In recent decades the agricultural industry has become extremely concentrated with just four firms controlling 54 percent to 85 percent of meatpacking, 85 percent of corn seeds and 76 percent of soybean seeds while just three companies make 95 percent of large farm tractors. This consolidation is one reason that farmers have seen their share of each dollar spent on food decline from 50 cents in 1952 to 14.3 cents in 2021, the lowest on record. This consolidation is not only impacting agriculture but is pervasive across the economy. Between 1997 and 2012, 75 percent of industries became more consolidated and since 2005 the economy has become 50 percent more concentrated. If consolidation is left unchecked, the Economic Security Project estimates that the United States will have one company by 2070.

Minnesota Farmers Union has been a leader in the effort to reign in the power of corporate monopolies. In addition to being a part of the National Farmers Union’s Fairness for Farmers campaign, MFU has worked to pass groundbreaking antitrust legislation. This includes a new law passed during the 2023 legislative session that establishes oversight of large hospital mergers and provides the Attorney General with new authority to block mergers that would create monopolies, increase prices or reduce access to care.