Farmers Union Fairness for Farmers campaign strikes chord with Minnesota Attorney General

The president of Minnesota Farmers Union suggests an unfair market is punishing farmers as buyers and sellers.

Gary Wertish tells Brownfield that’s why the National Farmers Union launched the Fairness for Farmers campaign last fall.

“It’s not only the meat packing industry, it’s in all (segments) whether you’re buying the inputs (like) chemicals or whatever it is, fertilizers. Farmers are getting hit on both sides of this, as he’s selling and as he’s buying. So you’re really getting squeezed on both ends.”

NFU says the campaign calls for stronger enforcement of antitrust laws and the break-up of corporate monopolies that use their size to take advantage of farmers while forcing consumers to pay higher prices at the grocery store.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison says a handful of companies control 85 percent of the beef market, 90 percent of global grain trade, and 70 to 86 percent of the pork, poultry, soy crushing, and wet corn processing markets.

“So we’ve got to do something about it. We’ve got to go back to those fundamental principles of market competition and we’ve got to have antitrust action, we also may have to have some consumer protection action for the purpose of making the market free and fair and function properly.”

Ellison and Wertish are calling for reforms to the Packers and Stockyards Act, improved price discovery and transparency in the cattle markets, and for updates to antitrust laws. 

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