Tester Pushes for Solutions to Big Ag Consolidation: “If we lose family farm agriculture in this country, this country becomes far less secure”

Senator urges Congressional action on competition in the agriculture marketplace

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today questioned experts during a Senate Banking Committee hearing, pushing for solutions to decreased competition in agricultural markets, and the need for solutions that protect family farm agriculture.

Tester began by highlighting challenges in the agricultural marketplace: “I believe in capitalism. I think you’ve got to have competition in the marketplace, it keeps everyone honest. I think what we’ve seen in many different sectors of our economy is way too much consolidation – I want to bring agriculture up as one. You know the statistics: three quarters of the global grain market is controlled by four traders. 82 percent of the U.S. beef market is controlled by four packers.”

“I’m a farmer in my real life,” Tester continued, emphasizing the impact of consolidation poses on family farmers: “That concentration prevents folks that are in production agriculture – family farmers – from being able to survive… That’s a system that, quite frankly, needs some attention.”

Tester continued to stress the importance of family farm agriculture to national security: “I’ve said and I mean this: if we lose family farm agriculture in this country, this country becomes far less secure. Congress needs to pay attention to that.”

Tester concluded by highlighting his legislation to fight big ag consolidation and pressing for more action to address big ag consolidation: “Chairwoman Stabenow put out a farm bill yesterday, and in that she included a bill that I’ve been pushing for and I’ve sponsored, the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act… Could you flesh out a little more how increased competition and accountability could help farmers, ranchers, consumers and what Congress needs to do from your perspective to make this happen?”

Tester, a third generation Montana farmer, has consistently championed efforts to combat corporate consolidation and protect the livelihood of Montana’s family farmers and ranchers. He introduced the Meatpacking Special Investigator Act to combat anticompetitive practices in the meat processing industry by appointing a USDA special investigator with subpoena power to enforce the nation’s anti-trust laws. Last year, Tester led the charge to pay back producers impacted by China’s evasion of anti-dumping duties. He also joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in urging the Department of Justice to investigate potential violations of antitrust laws in the face of skyrocketing corporate profits.


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