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Attorney warns consolidation hurts farmers

Wisconsin Farmers Union delegates discussing 2017 policy issues

An antitrust expert says the wave of corporate consolidation is bad news for farmers.

University of Wisconsin professor and former antitrust attorney Peter Carstensen says regulators often look at the combined company’s selling power, but the merged company’s influence as a buyer of ag products is often overlooked.  He says Dannon’s proposed acquisition of White Wave is one example.  “These two enterprises according to one estimate are taking 60, maybe 80 percent of all organic milk in that region.”

Carstensen says the proposed mergers of Dow and DuPont, Bayer and Monsanto, Syngenta and ChemChina, and Potash with AgGrow will make it harder for farmers.  “Very serious problems.  Enhanced both seller power for the inputs and buyer power for the outputs, and that puts the farmer in a heck of a squeeze.”

Carstensen told a session at the Wisconsin Farmers Union convention the 1914 Clayton Act prohibiting monopolies has not been well enforced.

 

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