Study: Agricultural Concentration Increasing

A National Farmers Union study finds increased concentration in every industry except ethanol production.

A study released by National Farmers Union Monday reports that agricultural market concentration is steadily increasing.

The NFU-commissioned study, conducted by Drs. Mary Hendrickson and William Heffernan of the University of Missouri, found increased concentration in every industry except ethanol production.

The NFU study documents that the top four beef packers dominate 83.5% of the market, four pork packers control 66% of that market and the top four poultry companies process 58.5% of the broilers in the United States. Tyson Foods is listed in the top four of each of these categories. The retailing industry has been gradually increasing its degree of concentration, with the top five companies controlling 48% of U.S. food retailing, compared to 24% a decade ago.

The opposite is true in ethanol production, the study found, where the top four companies controlled 73% of the marketplace in 1987 and 31.5% now. Farmer owned ethanol plans account for 39% of total capacity.

NFU President Tom Buis will testify before the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry, chaired by Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, at a Tuesday hearing to discuss market concentration.

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