Executive order targets ‘big ag,’ other ‘monopolies’ to help small farmers, entrepreneurs & food system weaknesses

Among the 72 wide-ranging initiatives in the executive order, Promoting Competition in the American Economy​, are orders to the US Department of Agriculture to alleviate unfair practices that Biden said are holding back small and first-time farmers and entrepreneurs, and which the White House said will address food system weaknesses exposed during the pandemic.

“What we’ve seen over the past few decades is less competition and more concentration that holds our economy back. We see it in big agriculture, in big tech, in big pharma,”​ Biden said.

For example, in agriculture, the White House explained in the past few decades the “markets for seeds, equipment, feed and fertilizer are now dominated by just a few large companies, meaning family farmers and ranchers now have to pay more for these inputs.”

It added consolidation “also limits farmers’ and ranchers’ options for selling their products,”​ which means “they get less when they sell their produce and meat – even as prices rise at the grocery store.”

Biden said these actions are “putting a squeeze on farmers. Small and family farms, first-time farmers – like veterans coming home and Black and Latino and Indigenous farmers – they’re seeing price hikes for seed, lopsided contracts, shrinking profits and growing debt.”

With an eye towards leveling the playing field for farmers, ranchers and “helping entrepreneurs and small businesses get in the game,”​ as well as “helping families save money every month,”​ Biden called on USDA to revitalize the Packers and Stockyards Act to help combat non-competitive abuses, refine “Produce of USA” labeling rules for meat, empower farmers to repair their own equipment, and support alternative food distribution systems.

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