27 March 2010 - Let Me Hear From You

Several times a year I like to do what I call a ‘Samuelson Sez Shout Out’, where I ask you to respond to me on a given issue, so I can share your thoughts and ideas on upcoming editions of ‘Samuelson Sez’. Well, this is one of those weeks. Let me begin by giving you the e-mail address for your response. Just e-mail me at orion@agbizweek.com.

The subject? The topic of a hearing held in Ankeny, Iowa a few weeks ago examining the lack of competition in the world of agriculture that is hurting the bottom line of America’s farmers and ranchers. It is something I have heard discussed at farm meetings for years. Livestock producers, for example, complaining that with fewer buyers and fewer packing plants, it is difficult to get top dollar for livestock.

I especially would like to hear from you if you are a cattle producer or involved in the cattle industry. Does a lack of competition in the packing industry hurt your opportunity to make a profit from your cattle when they go to market? I would also like to hear from other livestock producers as well as producers of crops ranging from cotton to soybeans to lettuce. Does a Wal-Mart or Costco or other big-volume buyers put unfair price pressure on you at market time?

It’s not just the marketing side that was discussed at that Iowa meeting; a great deal of attention was focused on the agribusiness supply side with heavy emphasis on genetic seed and crop protection companies. Are there monopolies in those industries over-charging farmers and ranchers for their products.

At the Iowa hearing, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, told a standing-room-only crowd, “the Obama administration is serious about looking into these complaints and will pursue any areas where they deem lack of competition is hurting America’s farmers and ranchers.”

The person in charge of the anti-trust division at the Justice Department said “we will do everything in our power to assure fairness in the market place to assure farmers and ranchers that we are not going to overlook areas of lack of competition that could hurt their business.” Several more hearings will be held in other locations.

So, what do you think? Is the lack of competition or monopoly hurting you as a farmer and rancher? If so, what areas are affecting you the most and what should be done to correct them? I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas so I can share them with my readers and radio/TV audience. Send them to me at orion@agbizweek.com. Let me hear from you.

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