Elizabeth Warren calls for breakup of big agriculture
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren promised to break up big agricultural businesses to end their “stranglehold” over farmers and mount an antitrust challenge to reverse the merger of Bayer AG with seed and biotechnology company Monsanto.
Corporate consolidation in agriculture is “leaving family farmers with fewer choices, thinner margins, and less independence,” Warren wrote in a Medium posting announcing her plan on Wednesday.
The Massachusetts senator issued her plan ahead of Democratic candidates’ “Heartland Forum” on rural issues in Iowa on Saturday. A handful of other presidential hopefuls, including more moderate Democrats such as Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and former Representative John Delaney of Maryland, will also participate in the event.
This policy roll-out follows a pattern for Warren as she tries to distinguish herself in a crowded field of Democratic candidates by offering the most robust, progressive policy proposals. Warren, who made her first foray into politics as an advocate for consumer financial protection following the 2008 banking crisis, also proposed an "ultra-millionaire" tax and tighter regulations for large technology companies.
Flooding in the Midwest has focused fresh attention on the economic setbacks of farmers in the region already hit by President Donald Trump’s trade war with China. Even some Republicans who represent rural areas have warned the Trump administration that low commodity prices and retaliatory tariffs could add voters to a Democratic coalition currently concentrated on the coasts.
Warren said the Bayer-Monsanto merger, approved by the Trump Justice Department last year, “never should have happened” and vowed if elected to appoint “trustbusters” who would reverse that merger, along with others she said are anti-competitive. She also criticized the 2017 merger that formed DowDuPont Inc. and China National Chemical Corp.’s 2017 acquisition of Syngenta AG, along with Tyson Foods Inc.’s domination of chicken farming.
Warren said her administration would tackle agribusiness consolidation and be more aggressive in challenging vertical integration under antitrust laws. She also pledged to back a ban on foreign ownership of U.S. farmland, stricter country-of-origin label rules for beef and pork, and a “right to repair” law so that farmers wouldn’t be required to use an authorized agent to fix equipment.
She said farmers are paying the price for decisions in Washington that “have consistently favored the interests of multinational corporations and big business lobbyists.”