Letter from Langdon: One Year Later

[imgbelt img=155998920_f900faea28.jpeg]The Obama administration promised to do something about monopoly markets in the food business — and then did nothing. Now animal rights groups are entering the fray.

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In 2009 the Obama administration began investigating the impact of large agricultural corporations, food processors, and retailers, and their concentrated control of farm wholesale and retail markets.

Rural America was hopeful.

A lot of us thought that injustices first addressed by Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson would finally be settled. We thought the hundred-year-old Packers and Stockyards Act would at last be enforced. And we hoped the heavy handed way seed companies had enforced their patents would end.

Hearings were held across the country, five of them, and people came out of the woodwork to let authorities know just how extensive market control had become and how it had affected their communities, their businesses and their lives.

Government attorneys interviewed potential witnesses for the four scheduled hearings. I was one of those people they talked to prior to selecting a handful to testify.

Though I was not chosen for the first hearing in Ankeny, Iowa, another member of Missouri Farmers Union, Jim Foster, was selected. Jim told about how difficult it had become to raise hogs independently at a time when a few big packers controlled marketing opportunity. There were others there with similar experiences. (You can read Jim Foster’s testimony here.)

Throughout 2010 the Departments of Justice and Agriculture continued the hearings. In rural communities across the country, expectations grew that finally something would be done. While only a few actually got the chance to tell their stories, thousands showed up to support the cause and the speakers and to listen.

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