ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Members of Minnesota Farmers Union’s full board voted on Aug. 21 to go on record in opposition to Cargill buying Sanderson Farms.
County presidents from across the state gathered in St. Paul for their biannual board meeting in August, which was conducted part in-person and part via Zoom. Members listened to several reports including a legislative update before taking a vote on the matter.
According to a press release from MFU, after a robust discussion on consolidation, Lac Qui Parle County Farmers Union President Doug Peterson moved to send a letter to Minnesota’s congressional delegation opposing the acquisition of Sanderson Farms by Cargill and Continental Grain Company. The motion passed unanimously.
“Farmers Union members have long pursued an open and competitive marketplace where family farmers thrive,” said Gary Wertish, president of MFU. “Increased consolidation does not benefit farmers, nor consumers. Instead, it concentrates power into the hands of a few and leaves farmers with fewer market opportunities and consumers with higher prices.”
On Aug. 9, Cargill, Continental Grain Company and Sanderson Farms announced they had reached an agreement for Cargill and Continental Grain to acquire Sanderson Farms. Once the transaction is completed, Sanderson Farms will be combined with Wayne Farms, a subsidiary of Continental Grain, to form a new, privately held company. Sanderson Farms is the nation’s third-largest poultry producer.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging a thorough review of the proposed acquisition.
“The Antitrust Division should scrutinize this proposed acquisition to ensure that it will not reduce market access opportunities or facilitate anti-competitive and predatory business practices in the industry,” Grassley wrote. “As you know, the poultry industry recently has been investigated for conspiring to fix prices and rig bids for chicken products, and pass on the costs to consumers and other purchasers. Further, the Antitrust Division should consider whether the proposed acquisition will result in more limited choices of poultry products and higher prices for consumers.”