WASHINGTON – A comprehensive report released today by the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch outlines the crisis state of the country’s food system, including detailed analysis on the severe damage levied on society by unchecked corporate monopolies dominating the system.
The report, “Well-Fed: A Roadmap to a Sustainable Food System that Works For All,” offers a corrective policy blueprint that includes sweeping federal legislation and an overhaul of the country’s farm safety net. It also features a number of case studies from across the country featuring family farmers, ranchers and food hubs that have enacted safe, healthy, sustainable and profitable business models.
The report outlines the alarming degree of corporate consolidation in the food industry and its impact on consumers and small farms. For example:
- 83 percent of all beef is produced by just four processing companies;
- 65 percent of consumer grocery market share is held by just four retailers; and
- 67 percent of crop seed market share is held by just four corporations.
These and other conditions have had a devastating effect on consumer choice and costs, and small farm income and stability.
“The COVID pandemic laid bare many of the systemic crises in our food system today, all of which are exacerbated by unchecked corporate consolidation,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “But there is a clear path forward. Small, diversified family farms are already raising healthy, sustainable food for their local communities. We need bold action from the federal government to help rebuild our regional food infrastructure — our small slaughterhouses, grain mills and grocery cooperatives—to support the growth of more independent, sustainable farms.”
The report recommends a number of robust policy prescriptions that would help to move the country to a safer, healthier and more sustainable food future by addressing the unchecked power of mega-corporations and creating systems to adequately sustain small farms and ranches. Among these prescriptions are:
- Federal legislation like the Farm System Reform Act, which would ban new factory farms and the expansion of existing ones, and phase out the most egregious factory farm operations by 2040;
- Reinstating federal supply management programs for commodities, including price floors;
- Enacting through legislation a moratorium on corporate mergers in the food system; and
- Redirecting public agriculture funding to encourage and support organic and regenerative farming practices.