Farm Aid asks Department of Justice to fast-track antitrust investigations in dairy industry
Cambridge, Mass., June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Farm Aid joined family farmers from across the country today in Madison, Wis., at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) joint public workshop examining competition in the dairy industry. The workshop comes 18 months into an unprecedented crisis for dairy farmers. Low prices and high production costs, combined with a tightening credit market, have pushed thousands of family farmers out of business.
"Farm Aid has always stood for keeping family farmers on the land in the face of increased concentration and consolidation in agriculture. But what is happening to dairy farmers — what has been allowed to happen for years — is unconscionable," said Carolyn Mugar, executive director of Farm Aid. "We are encouraged that just last week the Department of Agriculture proposed rules that will help level the playing field for livestock and poultry producers. Dairy farmers urgently need that same attention. Now is the time to act."
Family farmers across the country are losing an average of $100 a month on each dairy cow they own, with some farmers losing up to $200 a month per cow. Meanwhile the largest dairy processors have made record profits. Lax enforcement of antitrust regulations has resulted in a system that creates artificially low prices for farmers and no savings for consumers. A 2006 investigation by a DOJ antitrust taskforce into dairy industry practices alleged anticompetitive conduct by dairy industry giants, such as Dean Foods and Dairy Farmers of America.
"I've waited 17 years for this opportunity. It is encouraging to see the USDA and DOJ finally taking interest in these issues that have disastrous effects on dairy farmers," said Wisconsin farmer Joel Greeno, one of the participants in the workshop's farmer panel. "Let's hope today is the beginning of the end of injustices in dairy markets. It is time to restore transparency and competitiveness so that farmers can make a fair living wage."
On Thursday Farm Aid issued a call for signatures petitioning U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to take immediate action to follow through on ongoing investigations of anticompetitive conduct by Dean Foods and Dairy Farmers of America. Additional antitrust allegations have been made against both firms in federal law suits. Since the beginning of 2009, Farm Aid has worked alongside the National Family Farm Coalition, Family Farm Defenders and other farmer organizations to call federal attention to this dairy crisis, advocating for dairy pricing reform and antitrust investigation. While farmers are encouraged by the joint DOJ and USDA workshops and recent antitrust lawsuits, there remains an urgent need to immediately establish a fair marketplace for dairy farmers. To join with Farm Aid in calling on Attorney General Holder to act now, visit www.farmaid.org.
For 25 years, Farm Aid has worked to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews host an annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid's work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid has raised more than $37 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture and promote food from family farms.
SOURCE Farm Aid