CIAS faculty associates, students and staff responded to USDA’s request for information on concentration in food retail and distribution. The joint letter details new research from three on-going projects: Grassland 2.0, national food flow work, and research on wholesale produce markets serving the Northern 13 Wisconsin counties.
The upshot: geographic and enterprise ownership concentration distort and suppress market
signals necessary for healthy competitive markets and agricultural and food policies. This has limited
farmers’ choices and made it more difficult for small and midsized farmers and entrepreneurial processors to
start new, thriving businesses that are necessary for strong rural economies. It has also allowed companies to lobby for policies that externalize many of their costs (in terms of environmental damage, low wages, and healthcare costs due to labor abuses and subsidies for highly processed foods) onto taxpayers, increasing their bottom line at the expense of the public.
The letter details research findings and suggests ways to address concentration in food supply chains.