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160+ Groups Urge USDA and DOJ to Issue Action Plan on Consolidation in Agriculture and Food Industries

For More Information, Contact:
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Pesticide Action Network: 415-981-6205 x.325
Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition: 202-543-5675
Debbie Grunbaum, WhyHunger: 212-629-0853

For immediate release: May 11, 2011

More than 160 Groups Urge U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture to Issue Action Plan on Consolidation in Agriculture and Food Industries

Historic workshops on agricultural antitrust issues warrant national vision

WASHINGTON—More than 160 groups sent a letter yesterday urging U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to release a report on findings from the 2010 investigation of antitrust issues in agriculture. The historic workshops, conducted jointly by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture (USDA), brought together nationally recognized experts, academics, farmers and consumers to discuss the growing impact of consolidation on America’s farm and food sectors.

“Farmers applauded the departments for undertaking the antitrust workshops, but more than a year after the first workshops concluded, farmers and ranchers need real action to restore fairness and stem the losses. They are wondering what happens next,” said Kathy Ozer, Executive Director of the National Family Farm Coalition.

The five workshops also provided an opportunity for thousands of farmers, ranchers and consumers to voice their concerns about the impact that consolidation in the seed, meatpacking, poultry and retail sectors has on their livelihoods and families. Hundreds of thousands more submitted written testimony and signed petitions to the departments.

“We have heard stories from producers and consumers around the country struggling to support themselves on their farms and healthy food in their communities. Americans all along the food chain are impacted by the agribusiness monopolies dominating US food and agriculture.” said Bill Ayres, Executive Director of WhyHunger. “The need for federal action to break up the monopolies is just as important today as it was in Teddy Roosevelt’s day; restoring competition in the market is essential to curbing hunger, improving our citizens’ health, and growing strong local economies.”

The assemblage of experts and the coordination between the DOJ and USDA was unprecedented and can be the basis for greatly needed efforts to address consolidation in the food and farm sectors, the letter noted. 165 farmer, community, environmental, consumer, faith and development groups from across the country signed the letter.

"Both agencies need to understand that the American public wants more than an extended media event when it comes to breaking the stranglehold that Monsanto et. al. have on our food and farming systems. What is wanted and what is warranted is decisive and informed action from the only people on the planet in a position to take on Big Food," concluded Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist of Pesticide Action Network of North America. "A clear and comprehensive report is appropriate and overdue."

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