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Elizabeth Warren's Plan to Lift Up Family Farmers Includes Barring Big Ag Mega-Mergers Like Monsanto-Bayer

The senator unveiled her plan to fight conglomerates like Bayer-Monsanto just before heading to Iowa to meet with farmers

Outlining how power over America's farmland has increasingly been taken over by huge corporations as family farmers suffer, Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday unveiled her latest 2020 policy proposal aimed at "leveling the playing field" for working Americans.

The Masschusetts Democrat's agricultural plan targets mergers like those of Bayer-Monsanto and Dow-DuPont, which she says allow corporations to "crush competition and seize control over key markets," and aims to give family farms more control over their business.

The Democratic presidential hopeful released her plan exclusively to the Des Moines Register before publishing a Medium post on Wednesday detailing the proposal. The plan was introduced ahead of her latest trip to Iowa to meet with farmers and discuss rural issues at a forum with other candidates.  

"Iowa feels this very directly," Warren told the Register in a recent interview.

Thanks to monopolies, she added, "The number of purchasers of soybeans or hogs has shrunk dramatically. The number of seed providers has shrunk dramatically, and the diversity of the seeds has shrunk. Concentration in those industries has put a real squeeze on small- and medium-sized farms in Iowa."

As Warren explained in her Medium post, her plan would reverse the $66 billion Bayer-Monsanto merger which was approved by regulators last year and gave a single conglomerate control more than a third of the world's seed market, and work to ensure that such mergers don't continue:

Bad decisions in Washington have consistently favored the interests of multinational corporations and big business lobbyists over the interests of family farmers.

[...]

Mergers mean that farmers have fewer and fewer choices for buying and selling, while vertical integration has meant that big agribusinesses face less competition throughout the chain and thus capture more and more of the profits. The result is that farmers are getting a record-low amount of every dollar Americans spend on food, food prices aren't going down, and agribusiness CEOs and other corporate executives are raking it in.

While agricultural giants are major drivers of Iowa's economy, their practices and consolidation of power have left family-run farms behind. Over the past four decades, more than 32,000 farms have shut down across the state, according to the U.S. Agriculture Census.

In addition to appointing federal regulators to oversee agricultural mergers and reverse those that are unfair to working Americans, Warren plans to give farmers more control over their business by ending contract farming, which becomes expensive for farmers contracted by companies like Tyson and Perdue, and enacting a national right-to-repair law which would allow farmers to repair their equipment locally or on their own instead of being required to use a large dealership.

The plan would also require transparency regarding the origin of meat products and bar foreign investors from buying up farmland in a bid to open up more than 27 million acres across the country which are owned by foreign entities.

Beef and pork can be given a U.S. origin label if it is processed in the United States — even if the animals are not born and raised here. This misleads consumers looking for American-grown meat and undermines American beef and pork producers.

That's why I will push hard for new country-of-origin rules for beef and pork — and use the trade tools available to me as president to push Canada and Mexico to accept them.

[...]

Iowa has the right idea. It passed a law prohibiting foreign individuals or entities from purchasing farmland for the purpose of farming. I support a national version of that law, and as president, will use all available tools to restrict foreign ownership of American agriculture companies and farmland.

Supporters on Twitter applauded Warren's latest policy proposal aimed at making sweeping structural changes to America's economic system, forcing Washington to place the needs of working families over the desires of companies like Bayer-Monsanto, and calling attention to policies affecting owners of small farms.

Posted with permission by Common Dreams.

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