Washington, D.C.—“Any action that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) takes in response to the recently-submitted recommendations on competition and agriculture from 13 state attorneys general must continue to recognize that individual family farmers should have the ability to form cooperatives in order to compete effectively in the marketplace.
“For more than 100 years, farmer cooperatives—businesses owned by farmers and operated for their benefit—have helped to ensure that individual producers can compete on a more level playing field with the large, integrated multinational companies that dominate much of the food processing and food retailing sectors in this country. In fact, extensive research shows that farmer co-ops help spur competition; without these farmer-owned businesses, producers would receive less money for crops they grow, and consumers would pay more for the food they eat.
“Throughout their history, farmer co-ops have been a force for good in agriculture and by supporting farm income have helped preserve farms of all sizes—small, medium and large—across the U.S.
“Farmers and ranchers are dependent, though, on the limited antitrust immunities provided by the Capper-Volstead Act to join together and form cooperatives. Suggestions by some that cooperatives that have become ‘too large’ and that Capper-Volstead should be changed are deeply troubling, and show a stunning lack of understanding of the economic realities of today’s food and agriculture system. Without Capper-Volstead, farmer co-ops simply couldn’t exist as we know them today; without farmer co-ops, individual family farmers would have less power in the marketplace and would lose an important source of income from beyond the farm gate.
“The Capper-Volstead Act has worked exactly how Congress intended since the day it was signed into law. By spurring cooperative development, the Act helped America’s farmers become more profitable and competitive, while providing America with a bounty of food that is safer, more affordable, and more abundant than our grandparents could ever have imagined. Any unbiased look at farmer co-ops will reach this conclusion, and the nation’s farmer co-ops look forward to working with DOJ and USDA as they continue their examination of competition issues in agriculture.”
Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 3,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.
America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.