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Bill Would Place Moratorium on Ag Mergers
USAgNet - 05/24/2019

Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan is once again introducing legislation that would impose a temporary moratorium on mergers and acquisitions between large farm, food and grocery companies. The Madison Democrat, who sponsored a similar bill last September, says his measure would also establish a commission to strengthen antitrust enforcement in the agribusiness industry.

As part of the 'Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act,' the federal government would seek to address concentration in the agriculture and food sectors, which Pocan feels is squeezing small family farmers, driving down wages for workers, and hurting rural communities. Unlike the 2018 draft, the updated bill would call for an indefinite halt to such mergers.

"Out-of-control consolidation has enabled big agricultural firms to control prices at every stage of the food chain, from farming to distribution, and Congress must do more to allow local farmers and food systems to be competitive, while establishing greater market transparency for the American consumer," Pocan said. "Today, corporate profits are soaring, but many middle-class families, farmers, and food workers continue to struggle. Establishing a moratorium on ag-mergers will not only strengthen our antitrust laws, but it will also expand economic security and opportunity to more of our communities."

In just the past several years, Pocan claims chemical and seed company acquisitions and mergers have resulted in just three companies controlling two-thirds of the crop seed market.

The measure is modeled after a similar proposal introduced 20 years ago by the late-Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, which would have established a commission to study ways to strengthen antitrust oversight of the farm and food sectors and recommend improvements to merger enforcement.

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Cory Booker of New Jersey and Jon Tester from Montana.

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