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Consolidation in U.S agriculture : the new rural landscape and public policy

  • Agricultural Science
  • Economics


The year just past was one of turbulent markets and unmet expectations for most of U.S. agriculture. Public and private attention focused mainly on the steep drop in farm commodity prices, and when the soggy markets might show signs of recovery. Yet while they captured most of the headlines, weak prices were also contributing to subtle, and some not so subtle, changes in U.S. agriculture. Taken together, these changes amounted to a new wave of consolidation that spread throughout the industry. Consolidation is certainly not new in agriculture---it has been underway for most of the 20th century. What is new is the type and speed of the consolidation. The consolidation is receiving widespread attention, but many observers overlook how it will redraw the economic landscape in rural America, posing formidable new challenges for many rural communities.> In testimony before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in January, and the House Committee on Agriculture in February, Drabenstott addressed the two key questions that surround this critical topic. First, what does consolidation mean for U.S. agriculture and its participants? And second, what issues, if any, does the new wave of consolidation pose for public policy?

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