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Bengs Promises Stronger Antitrust Legislation to Rescue Farmers from Republican Erosion of Packers and Stockyards Act

Democratic Senate candidate Brian Bengs and I may share an occasional wavelength.  Shortly after my reminder yesterday that concentration in the chicken industry is as bad for farmers as concentration in the broader meat market, the newly Democratized and only sane alternative to John Thune told his online followers that he’ll push Rooseveltian antitrust legislation to bring competition back to the mass slaughter of animals for food:

Brian Bengs, FB campaign post, 2022.05.02.
Brian Bengs, FB campaign post, 2022.05.02.
Bengs pulls his stats on the decimation of independent farmers from this article on the Packers and Stockyards Act, a law that’s been on the books since 1921. The Biden Administration is trying to undo the damage the Trump Administration did to the Packers and Stockyards Act after the Obama Administration tried to strengthen it. But the big trouble started with the Republicans last great godhead, Ronald Reagan:

In 1921, in an attempt to right the market and to ensure consumers and farmers were treated fairly, the U.S. Congress passed the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act). This act prohibited meat packers and processors from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices, manipulating prices, creating monopolies and engaging in other anti-competitive market behavior. With the enforcement of this new law, by 1976 the Big 4 meat companies only controlled about 25% of the market and it was functioning as a fair and transparent marketplace (see Agriculture and Applied Economics Association journal report).

Unfortunately, following this success story, the Reagan administration replaced the definition used to determine anti-competition, moving away from anti-competitive factors to factors to determine “efficiency” in the market. Following this lead, the courts have narrowed the enforcement ability of the P&S Act. While the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the act right after its passage (see Stafford v. Wallace, 1922), the same court struck down Monfort’s attempt to stop Cargill from purchasing a joint competitor, Spence Foods (see Cargill v Monfort, 1986). Following this decision, the Big 4 meat companies’ control of the marketplace went from 50% to over 62%, and by the mid-90’s the Big 4 controlled about 80% of the market [Organization for Competitive Markets, “Packers and Stockyards Act Reform,” retrieved 2022.05.03].

Wow—what is it about South Dakota farmers that makes them fall for charismatic coastal Republicans who promise God, Guns, and Greatness but implement policies that oppress rural America? Farmers need to get back to the McGovern days when they listened to and elected smart Democrats like Bengs who understood how to protect the rural economy from big corporation predation.


  1. larry kurtz 2022-05-03 07:36

    Yeah, whatever. Until South Dakota politicians promise to end the medical industry triopoly in my home state they’re just blowing smoke.

    In red states like South Dakota freedom equals the right to pollute.

    Recall Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling or MCOOL was repealed during the second Obama term to shield American commodities from scrutiny because every ag product, meats both wild and domestic not grown organically in the United States is contaminated with atrazine, neonicotinoids, glyphosate, dicamba, DDT, mercury, lead, cadmium, PFAS, E. coli, Imazalil plus other toxins and pathogens.

    The reasoning is hardly mysterious. It’s all about the money a too big to jail banking racket, a medical industry triopoly, prostitution, the Sturgis Rally, policing for profit, sex trafficking, hunting and subsidized grazing bring to the SDGOP destroying lives, depleting watersheds and smothering habitat under single-party rule.

  2. Richard Schriever 2022-05-03 11:54

    More confirmation as to why I adjudge Reagan the WORST ever US President.

  3. John 2022-05-05 09:55

    I appreciate Bengs support of ag anti-trust measures.
    Though that’s a good start. What we really need and want is our rural communities back from the corporate ag.
    Few, if any any, farms in the state and region grow food – they grow feed and fuel.
    One hardly find a farm-to-table restaurant in the state and region.
    Corporate ag is turning our farms and rural towns to dust.
    Doubt it? Go spend a weekend in any northwest Iowa town north of US20 and west of US71.

  4. John 2022-05-05 22:37

    Doubling down on, The Future is Faster Than You Think . . . [read the book]
    Burger King is planning to go 50% meatless in its menu by 2030. Of course, that’s merely the tip of the iceberg. As costs for plant-based and cultivated proteins exponentially fall . . . the corporate ag CAFO livestock and feed business model will crater, to being about as novel as a horse and buggy in New York’s Central Park.

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