Today it’s sometimes called “vertical integration.” A century ago there was another word—“trust.” Missouri’s junior senator thinks it’s about time for some old-fashioned “trust-busting.”
Acquisitions, mergers, consolidations in finance, farming, insurance, energy, and other commerce have some business critics saying the result is less competition that leads to a less diverse marketplace for producers and less choice for consumers.
Independent agriculture producers complain big operators that control research, production, processing, and marketing are controlling prices and limiting competition. Senator McCaskill says the antitrust division of the Justice Department needs to get busy for the first time in a long time.
She says Missouri has gone from 27,000 feeder pig operations to about 5,000. She blames concentration of production and contracting by individual farmers with big producers for that drop.
“That just gives you some idea of the massive shift in the agricultural economy from independent families out there selling their products at market when they want to sell it based on price versus families who are having to take a price that is dictated to them by companies that are in fact paying them to raise cattle and pigs,” she says.
McCaskill says the antitrust division “has been in a coma.” She says the only major case it has prosecuted in the last decade was a case against Microsoft, and it didn’t work.