Will Agribusiness Plow Under The Family Farm?

Rampant consolidation has caught Washington's attention

When John R. Whitaker, a family farmer in southeast Iowa, took lambs to market a few years ago, he would see four or five buyers bid for them. These days, he says, he's lucky to get two. The story is much the same in grains, he says, where a handful of companies make up the market in many spots around the Farm Belt. Such concentration in agriculture, Whitaker frets, is putting a big squeeze on already beleaguered farmers; he believes his lambs would fetch better prices if more buyers were competing. "It's not our hides it's coming out of," says Whitaker. "it's deeper than that."

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