Inadequate market competition is one of the most pressing issues facing producers today. The past decade’s sharp decline in the number of family farms and the increasing trend toward horizontal and vertical concentration in the agriculture and food sector are proof that independent producers cannot succeed without protection from unfair, anti-competitive practices.

Last week Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinTrump's trial a major test for McConnell, Schumer New Hampshire parochialism, not whiteness, bedevils Democrats Democrats must question possible political surveillance MORE (D-Iowa) introduced bipartisan legislation addressing competition and fairness in agricultural markets. NFU believes Harkin’s Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Act of 2007 is a step in the right direction in restoring competition and ensuring producers are protected from anti-competitive practices. We have been strong proponents of the need to establish competitive, accessible and transparent markets.

Last year’s report by USDA’s Office of Inspector General, which documented the department’s failure to effectively carry out Packers and Stockyards enforcement, was an alarming and clear signal that change is needed.

The legislative provisions included in Harkin’s legislation are needed to untie the hands of family farmers and ranchers across the country so they can combat increasingly consolidated and non-competitive agricultural markets.