Organic Consumers Association

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Corporate Food Executives Aren't Struggling Quite as Much as Farmers

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page, Farm Issues page.

This week we focus on our campaign for fair food by calling on President Obama to enact a rule on livestock marketing that would let USDA finally use authority given to them back when Woodrow Wilson was President. The "GIPSA rule" (named for the USDA branch that governs livestock marketing) would even out the playing field in the meat industry and allow small-to-medium-sized independent farmers to fairly compete with large-scale factory farms. Of course, industry is pushing back, using delay tactics to put off implementing the rule. Which is why Sunday's Washington Post article was so timely.

The article, "With executive pay, rich pull away from rest of America," could be the answer to the question: when industrial food giants squeeze out farmers and small processing plants and consolidate the industry, where do their savings go? It sounds like a good deal of it may go to upper echelon executives.

The article is mostly about the abuses that result from decades of deregulation and unchecked corporate consolidation as it relates to the salaries of American business executives in the last five or six decades, but it focuses on one company in particular: Dean Foods. It describes two chief executives who led the company at different times: Kenneth J. Douglas, who held the reigns during the 1970s and Gregg L. Engels, who is the current CEO. The article claims that Engels makes the equivalent of about 10 times as much in compensation as Douglas did. If you're familiar with the consolidation of power that exists in the food industry, this should come as no surprise.

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