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NFU: Ag market concentration remains on the rise

Agricultural market concentration continues to rise, according to a new study released by the National Farmers Union. The study, conducted by Drs. Mary Hendrickson and William Heffernan, University of Missouri, reveal increased concentration in every industry except ethanol production.

The study documents that the top four beef packers dominate 83.5% of the market; four pork packers control 66% of the market, and the top four poultry companies process 58.5% of U.S. broilers. Tyson Foods is listed in the top four of each of these categories.

Retailers also have increased their concentration, with the top five companies controlling 48% of U.S.food retailing. This is up from 25% a decade ago.

"In the absence of public policy intervention, consolidated and non-competitive markets flourish," says NFU president Tom Buis. "Congress must act to restore competition in the market. The 2007 farm bill is the perfect opportunity to make that happen."

Ethanol, the only agricultural sector with a declining concentration, has four companies controlling 31.5% of the market. In 1987, the top four companies owned 73%. Farmer-owned ethanol plants account for 39% of total capacity.

"Renewable fuels is one of the most exciting areas of agriculture, and is a clear example of the impact and potential for public policies that encourage competition and reward local ownership," Buis says. "It's important to continue this trend for ethanol, and also expand rural ownership to our other ag-related sectors."

Agricultural market concentration continues to rise, according to a new study released by the National Farmers Union. The study, conducted by Drs. Mary Hendrickson and William Heffernan, University of Missouri, reveal increased concentration in every industry except ethanol production.

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