What's more corrupt than Enron? Price fixing in the dairy industry, at least according to one Department of Justice official.
For the past year and a half, America's dairy farmers have faced their worst crisis since the Great Depression all while giant dairy processors have reaped record profits. The current dire situation comes during an unprecedented period of consolidation in the dairy industry. In the past 16 years, half of American dairy farms have gone out of business, and processing and distribution has become dominated by just a few huge organizations, like the Dairy Farmers of America co-op and processor Dean Foods.
Fortunately, these corporate abuses have not gone unnoticed. Just last Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Justice convened a public hearing in Madison, Wisconsin to examine antitrust violations in the dairy industry. While many small farmers and others spoke out against industry consolidation and its disastrous effects, the defenders of big dairy were also there in force.
If the government fails to act, thousands more dairy farmers stand to lose their farms and their livelihoods this year. Excessive consolidation means farmers have fewer choices about where to sell their milk and are less likely to get a fair price for what they produce. In fact, the price farmers receive for their milk has dropped more than 50% since December of 2008.
We can't back down. We're joining forces with our friends at Food Democracy Now! in sending a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to enforce U.S. antitrust laws to return a fair and level playing field in the food and agricultural sectors. Will you sign on today?
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