Ensuring Fairness for Farmers and Consumers

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1638 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Feb 13, 2024

Words: 1638|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Feb 13, 2024

The U.S. agricultural sector is undergoing an abnormally increased level of concentration in its pricing system, giving just a handful of corporations possess virtual dominance overproduction and consumption of food. This has caused hundreds of thousands of hardworking family farmers to leave their farmlands and has damaged rural economies, public health, and our environment. Different endeavors to return fairness and competition in the agriculture sector are long overdue and would potentially transform the landscape of our food system for the benefit of the entire country, and not just a few. Almost every inch of America's food supply chain is more concentrated in the past few decades than ever before. From producers of agricultural products such as pesticides and equipment to customers, the rapid growth in corporate power has left small farm owners and ranches quite vulnerable to exploitation from these institutions with which they do business (Willingham and Green, 2019). Over time, there has been a good number of mergers and purchases by corporate organizations in the agricultural markets which continues to exert their influence in the sector. These corporate entities would continue to brew negative influence over the market leaving farmers and ranchers open to exploitation and unfair practices when left unchecked. For consumers, unrestrained corporate power results in higher prices and choices that are less healthy. As a result of their influence in the market, organizations can easily reduce what is being paid to farmers without transferring their savings to consumers. There has been major unfair play in the agriculture market where the large corporate companies use their capacity to close out the small-scale farmers.

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Twenty years ago, in the U.S., the chicken product was sold whole and not in pieces; today, over 90 percent of the chicken sold in the United States have been cut into pieces, cutlets, or nuggets (Schlosser 140). The consumption of chicken in the United States surpassed the use of beef for the first time in 1992 (Schlosser 140). It overturned a bulk agricultural commodity into a factory-made, value-added product' (Schlosser 139). The nation's chicken meat became traditionally been provided by hen's too old to lay eggs, then Tyson Foods formulated a new species of chicken to ease the manufacture of McNuggets; the new breed had unusually large breasts. Tyson Foods emerged as one of the largest producers for chicken after they signed for the McNugget contract (Schlosser 140). The Tyson foods company breeds poultry, which is then taken to independent contractors to be raised and fed. Thereafter, Tyson picks up the chicken to slaughter and then sells them (Schlosser 140). Independent contractors are signed on to companies like Tyson Foods to raise poultry. The chicken grower or independent contractor provides the land, the labor, the poultry houses, and the fuel. With these costs pushing poultry farmers further into debt. Close to half of the nation's chicken growers leave the business after managing it for three years, either selling out or losing everything' (Schlosser 141). Most independent contractors who complain or are challenging are likely to end up without a job and be seriously in debt.

The big organizations make sure that they secure most of the meat market by creating permanent deals with the food processors. They likewise own and run all the several means of production, including the feed mills, slaughter-houses, and the hatcheries that develop the chicken (Douglas and Leonard). The part of the market the biggest firms don't own is the farm itself. Independent contractor farmers take loans worth millions of dollars to construct proper houses where they tend to thousands of chickens (Douglas and Leonard). The independent contractors nurture the birds under a written agreement with an integrated company, giving them control over the operations on the farm. The poultry firms have control over the chickens, the feed, and the chickens' medical care. The only options farmers have is to raise the birds as much as they can since the major part of the enterprise is out of their hands (Douglas and Leonard). Major companies have complete control over independent poultry farmers and how the chickens are raised. Big companies hire independent contractors to prevent their liabilities. The poultry farmers are going into debt, having to pay huge investments, and not getting paid enough for it. The closing out of these small-scale ranchers has made them have an outstanding difficulty selling their products, which has financial implications.

The leading sectors of the American economy had been controlled by corporate alliances known as trusts. There was Sugar trust, steel trust, tobacco trust, and beef trust. It is the trust that sets up prices for cattle, which was not favorable to ranchers. A federal inquiry was launched into the trusts leading up to an anti-trust trial. The meatpacking companies owning 55 percent of the market struck a deal towards the end of the trial. Congress created a federal agency known as Packers and Stockyard Associations, having the authority to prevent monopolistic behaviors and price-fixing in the beef industry. The association was charged with establishing that a farmer who displays an injury from an unfair practice does not also need to show competitive damage to the broader marketplace; Requiring processors to update written records on differential pricing or data used to calculate farmers' pay and to supply farmers with information about their fee upon request. This trust also prevents packers from purchasing livestock from each other or a buyer from representing multiple packers at an auction. To eliminate competitive bidding, these trusts increase market transparency by demanding that companies provide a sample of contracts to USDA, be made available to the public.

Currently, there are rules in place which directly oversee how the market conditions are set, although they do not adequately protect the typical farmers. To display fairness and incorporate the interests of the market, some reformations need to be made on the agricultural production and product marketing rules. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) supervises processes that help the fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products. The congress, the regulatory bodies, and the community have a role to play to ensure that the competition is fairly managed. Many such programs are regulated and establish principles and requirements through the Federal rulemaking process. Mandatory Market Reporting: Two Acts set up the demands for electronic mandatory price and market information. The Mandatory Market Reporting Act of 2010 instructs the USDA to put out dairy product sales information every week, and for livestock, Mandatory Reporting Act also orders USDA to release available understandable livestock marketing data to producers, packers, and other market participants. This data would include the pricing, contracting for purchase, and supply-and-demand conditions for livestock, livestock production, and livestock products. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a law that demands that food retailers utilize product labels to identify the root country of some specific foods which comprises of but are not limited to ground meats of beef, veal, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, fish, and shellfish.

The U.S. Farm Bill modifies legislation across the full range of policy areas that it governs, which can change occasionally, depending on policy’s focus at the season. In cases of commodity, conservation, and rural development programs, new Farm Bills extend, revise, and replace the provisions of previous Farm Bills. While in other cases, the requirements of a new Farm Bill extends, amends, and replaces language in laws regulating areas that overlap Farm Bill authorities, regarding food and nutrition, food safety, trade, credit, research and extension, forestry, food safety, pesticides, and crop insurance. It is important to note that provisions of previous and related legislation not tampered with the new Farm Bill remains in place. Therefore, programs and regulations affecting U.S. food and agriculture policy may be directly supervised by legislation other than the current Farm Bill.

The compacted market like the one today has never been experienced by farmers in the US for both the necessities they need to keep their farms working and the markets where they sell their goods. Economists state that if the concentration ratio for an economic sector or the market share of the top four cooperate-firm in an industry is above 40%, competition is vulnerable, and abuse of market is more likely to occur.

Fairtrade is very important to American farmers and the nation’s economy. That is why opening new markets and being able to maintain the ones we have now is a top priority for everyone, irrespective of your role or position in the market. Agriculture is a major boost to our economy at the same time putting food on our tables. USDA stated that 11 percent of employment in the U.S. originates from agriculture and the food industry which is nearly 21 million jobs, including 18 million gotten off-the-farm. Fairtrade agreements do not just increase our exports but also bring in more imports. Also, even with the increase in farm goods coming in from overseas, agriculture continues to hold a positive trade balance.

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Farmers ought to be equipped to receive a fair share of the hard work of their labor. Legislators must employ alternative tools such as pricing models that assure farmers a good percentage share of the ultimate returns on their finished products, as is the case today in some agricultural markets such as that of wine grapes. As an alternative option, bargaining models can also be made available to assist farmers to receive a just return, including farmer befitting share, creating boards made up of farmers, workers, and processors to assist their collective bargaining with large buyers over individual commodity prices. Farmers realize they operate in a global economy, and they know that it has its profits and setbacks. Global markets are very volatile, and the abundance of one season may not be available in the next. The introduction of Fairtrade in the market may not erase all those troubles, but it's critical to keeping our farms and our nation's economy competitive and thriving. 

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Ensuring Fairness for Farmers and Consumers. (2024, February 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Ensuring Fairness for Farmers and Consumers.” GradesFixer, 13 Feb. 2024,
Ensuring Fairness for Farmers and Consumers. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Ensuring Fairness for Farmers and Consumers [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 13 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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