A new report released today finds that regulatory policy at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been "hijacked" by the agribusiness industry, which has seen to it that many key policymaking positions at the agency are now held by individuals who previously worked for the industry. |
The report, titled USDA INC., was commissioned by the Agribusiness Accountability Initiative (AAI), a network of family-farm and public- interest groups concerned about the growing power of the big agri-food corporations. It is being released today at a conference in Omaha sponsored by the Organization for Competitive Markets. The report can be found online.
"In its early days, USDA was known as the People's Department," said Fred Stokes of the Organization for Competitive Markets, which first proposed the paper. "Today, it is, in effect, the Agribusiness Industry's Department, since its policies on issues such as food safety and fair market competition have been shaped to serve the interests of the giant corporations that now dominate food production and distribution."
"It is not surprising that USDA is slavishly following the agenda of agribusiness when you consider who holds many of the top jobs at the Department," said Philip Mattera, director of the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First and author of the report. "The upper ranks of USDA are filled with industry veterans, while people formerly associated with family-farm, consumer or public-interest groups are just about nowhere to be found."
[ Agribusiness Accountability Initiative ]