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Justice Official Probes Agri-business Consolidation
By Mark Zdechlik
April 16, 1999
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This weekend a top official from the U.S. Department of Justice will be in the Twin Cities to hear from farmers concerned about dropping prices and growing consolidation in agri-business. Many farmers struggling to get by, suspect one reason the prices they're being offered for their crops and livestock are so low is because there are fewer companies competing for their business.

More Information

Farmers Concerned About Agricultural Mergers(3/15/99)

MINNESOTA-BASED CARGILL'S PROPOSED ACQUISITION of the grain-trading interests of one of its major competitors - Continental Grain of New York - has become something of a poster child in the debate over agri-business consolidation. Critics, including Senator Paul Wellstone, say the arrangement, would give Cargill control of a third of all U.S. grain exports. Cargill says to function in a world market that's no longer controlled by a handful of central governments, agri-businesses need more resources on both the production and marketing sides. Cargill spokeswoman Linda Thrane says selling grain now is much more complicated than it was 5 global markets developed. Thrane says when struggling global markets recover, U.S. farmers now suffering from low commodity prices , will benefit from the turnaround. And Thrane says having the option of marketing their products through companies like Cargill to a variety of customers all over the world will net farmers the best prices.

University of Minnesota Applied Economics Assistant Professor Brian Buhr says the notion growing agri-business giants are to blame for the erosion of commodity prices is simplistic. Buhr says while some U.S. industries are dominated by just a few companies, agri-business remains extremely competitive despite the wave of mergers.