Food hasn’t been a major focus for the 25 Democrats running for president. But for those who have released plans on the topic—or made promises to rural Iowa audiences—one issue in particular looms large: breaking up big ag.
The call to bust agribusiness monopolies is growing stronger as these firms grow larger. Over the past several decades, rapid consolidation — facilitated by recent mergers — has created near-monopolies, crowding out small farmers in the process.
In 2015, more than half the value of United States farm production came from farms with at least $1 million in sales, compared to 31 percent in 1991. The effects of consolidation are particularly apparent in the sales of various agricultural products: In 2000, the biggest four companies sold 51 percent of soybean seeds in the U.S., for example; by 2015, their share rose to 76 percent.