Memo: Restoring Independence and Fairness to Agriculture Under a Green New Deal

By - Charlie Mitchell: Research Fellow, Data for Progress; Austin Frerick: Deputy Director of the Thurman Arnold Project at Yale University and Senior Fellow at Data for Progress

Executive Producer - Greg Carlock: Green New Deal Research Director, Data for Progress

Executive Summary:

  • From seeds to grocery stores, rampant consolidation has ceded historic levels of power to food and agriculture conglomerates. To secure a sustainable national food supply, food production must transform radically, but right now, unprecedented concentration in agricultural markets is preventing that transition by impelling practices that abuse the environment, workers, animals, and consumers. Prices per head on poultry, cattle, and hogs have tanked along with the farmer’s share of the food dollar, wiping out populations of producers in favor of huge corporate farms.

  • Concentration in markets has allowed unprecedented concentration of animals in the form of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), creating massive ecological hazards in the form of methane emissions, water and air quality crises, antibiotic resistance, and dead zones that extinguish marine life. The environmental and social costs of these practices are massive, not only contributing to runoff that results in dead zones at the terminus of the Mississippi River, but antibiotic resistance, nutrient and chemical pollution, soil erosion, and rendering the communities they invade toxic and unlivable.

  • Only by addressing anti-competitive practices and restoring fair markets in food and agriculture can we facilitate diverse food production and commerce from independent, local- and regionally-controlled farms and businesses. This is vital for securing a nourishing food supply able to withstand climate catastrophe.