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Group representing small farmers wants market fairness

Lester Graham
Michigan Radio
Members of the Michigan Farmers Union want Washington to strengthen anti-trust laws and overhaul laws regulating meat packers and stockyards.

Smaller Michigan Farmers are looking to Washington to make things more fair.

These farmers say corporate farms and the consolidation of processing plants is making it tough for them to survive.

“I think President Joe Biden said it very succinctly back in July that capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism, it’s exploitation,” said Bob Thompson, president of the Michigan Farmers Union.

Thompson says just four beef processing companies buy 85% of the cattle. In August sirloin steak averaged $10.49 a pound retail.

“The farmer’s share of that was $1.98,” Thompson said.

He says it isn’t a free market because, “they’re gaming the system.”

His group, part of the National Farmers Union, wants Washington to strengthen anti-trust laws and reform the laws for meat packers and stockyards.

“Where it doesn’t take the mass of packaging and transportation and all of that. We want to see it local, where you can go and get something that is fresh as you can get it,” Thompson said.

The Farmers Union also wants labeling laws changed. Right now a cow raised in Peru can be slaughtered and then shipped to the U.S. Then if it’s turned into hamburger here, it can be labeled as a product of the U.S. The group feels that’s deceptive.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Radio from 1998-2010.
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