Fresh Take: A Call To Halt Agribusiness Mergers, Why Food Insecurity Is So Widespread Among Grocery Workers, And Jollibee Preps For IPO
This article features Government Accountability Project’s whistleblower client, Trina McClendon, and was originally published here.
Poultry grower Trina McClendon was three years into her 15-year contract with Sanderson Farms, America’s third-largest poultry processor, when she was offered a new take-it-or-leave-it contract that would slash her farm’s income by a third.
It wasn’t just McClendon’s 350-acre farm. All of Sanderson’s Mississippi growers were being asked to accept a deep cut, one that would result in the loss of tens of thousands each.
The surprise came two days after another big reveal. Sanderson Farms had just announced it would be acquired for $4.5 billion. The deep pockets behind the deal: a joint venture backed by grain traders Cargill, the biggest privately held company in the U.S., and Continental Grain, which owns poultry processor Wayne Farms.
That acquisition is now getting scrutinized by federal antitrust regulators, because it would create further consolidation in an industry already reeling from it. The top four poultry processors currently control more than 54% of the market; this deal would mean more than 50% alone rests with the top three firms.
“Send a clear and concise message to Sanderson Farms, Cargill and Continental Grain that the consolidation of our food industry is detrimental,” McClendon told lawmakers on a House antitrust panel Wednesday.