America Has a Monopoly Problem
“Big Doesn’t Just Happen, Big is Allowed to Happen.”- Joe Maxwell, President and CEO of Family Farm Action
In the wider food system, big food is changing the rules of the game. They control everything from seeds to supply and prices, while chipping away at regulations that inform and protect consumers. It has left the independent food economy, especially farmers, devoid of oxygen. In the name of power and profit and at the expense of farmers in the U.S. and abroad, corporations count on consumers to remain unorganized and uninformed to maintain the status quo. How can we change the rules of the game?
What We Did
In 2019 Equal Exchange worked in solidarity with the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and a number of organizations seeking to build an independent and fair food system for farmers, farmworkers, and consumers. Together, Equal Exchange’s citizen-consumer community across the U.S. called on their representatives to support an independent food system. Our goal was to help get the Food and Agribusiness Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2019 a hearing and a vote. This was a bill that would put a pause on food mergers, evaluate the impact of consolidation on the food system, and pave a path forward. Our network raised their voices to ask their representatives to support/co-sponsor this bill.
We had five in-district meetings in Vermont, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio. Over 1,300 members contacted their representatives calling on them to support this bill. This was our first time flexing our political muscles in this way and many of our supporters were a part of that journey and helped us to pioneer this direction alongside us as co-organizers. Having these shared goals and working on this campaign has helped our community become stronger and more connected.
This global pandemic has really flipped our world upside-down. Since it started this conversation has shifted, and consolidation has only been exacerbated and independent food businesses and farmers are more at risk than ever before. In this context it was hard to get the attention of political leaders on anything outside of this crisis so the bill has come to a standstill. However, conversations are still happening around consolidation and we still need your participation! And a new Congress and Administration may provide opportunities for progress that we didn’t have before.
We Still Need You!
We are not just consumers, we are individuals, and we have a voice. Collectively, we have power. Join the fight for an independent food system, one that works for farmers, consumers, and independent business. Fill out your information below to join our organizing network of folks working toward a better food system alongside Equal Exchange..
HAVE QUESTIONS? CONTACT US! Please email Danielle Robidoux and Frankie Pondolph at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 774-776-7407 with questions or learn how to get more involved!
Why You Should Care
The independent food economy and farmers are slowly going bankrupt, and consumers have increasingly dwindling options to support a healthy and safe food system. Farmer voices are being drowned out and consumer choice exists as only an illusion. A concentrated market and Big Food has power and influence over consumer prices, the health and safety of food choices on our grocery store shelves, and control of workers along all parts of the supply chain. A concentrated market means driving out existing independents and creating high barriers to entry, it denies workers in the food system good wages, and limits producers’ ability to deliver high quality, sustainable, and healthy food. Lax enforcement of antitrust laws has allowed monopolies to gain enough market share and economic power to obtain abusive levels of power and political influence over food policy, and ultimately our entire food system.