One of my Aberdeen neighbors who voted for a Manhattan billionaire for President is Tweet-complaining that the Biden Administration is “out of touch with rural America.”
She and all of my rural neighbors should read one of the opening paragraphs of President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, in which President Biden concisely expresses a keen understanding of the major market challenges facing rural America:
Consolidation in the agricultural industry is making it too hard for small family farms to survive. Farmers are squeezed between concentrated market power in the agricultural input industries — seed, fertilizer, feed, and equipment suppliers — and concentrated market power in the channels for selling agricultural products. As a result, farmers’ share of the value of their agricultural products has decreased, and poultry farmers, hog farmers, cattle ranchers, and other agricultural workers struggle to retain autonomy and to make sustainable returns [President Joe Biden, Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, 2021.07.09].
In a richly hyperlinked fact sheet on the pro-competition order, the White House notes that while the preceding administration “systematically weakened” the Packers and Stockyards Act, President Biden is ordering the United States Department of Agriculture and the Federal Trade Commission to support independent farmers rather than their corporate overlords:
In the Order, the President:
- Directs USDA to consider issuing new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act making it easier for farmers to bring and win claims, stopping chicken processors from exploiting and underpaying chicken farmers, and adopting anti-retaliation protections for farmers who speak out about bad practices.
- Directs USDA to consider issuing new rules defining when meat can bear “Product of USA” labels, so that consumers have accurate, transparent labels that enable them to choose products made here.
- Directs USDA to develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive a fair return, including supporting alternative food distribution systems like farmers markets and developing standards and labels so that consumers can choose to buy products that treat farmers fairly.
- Encourages the FTC to limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs—such as when tractor companies block farmers from repairing their own tractors [White House Fact Sheet: Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, 2021.07.09].
In this single order, President Biden shows a deeper practical understanding of the rural economy than the previous administration did in four years of shouting, posing, and thumb-twiddling. If you support rural America, you support President Biden’s initiatives for farmer rights.