Corporate farming notes: pushing back on consolidation in the food system

Consolidation of companies in the food system has had negative impacts for rural communities. One detriment is lack of choice and higher prices for farmers when purchasing inputs, as fewer and fewer corporations control seed and chemical production.

While wounds from consolidation are deep, understanding how and why food system corporations build power is important to regaining ground for the health of rural communities.

Dr. Philip Howard describes the tactics and strategies that food system corporations have used worldwide in his book, “Concentration and Power in the Food System.” The tactics he describes are both familiar and sobering to anyone engaged in food systems work. They encompass maintaining government subsidies, changing the interpretation of antitrust laws, structuring distribution networks, reshaping consumption habits, manipulating prices, strengthening intellectual property protections, and influencing voluntary standards. These efforts allow corporations to continue growing their market share and squeezing out competitors.

Building the vitality of a rural community requires not only investing in main street businesses, but also staying organized to push back against corporate consolidation. We’re glad to be in this work with you.