Originally published on Organic Consumers Association

WASHINGTON – On the eve of the final Department of Justice/USDA public workshop examining the effects of corporate concentration in food and agriculture, a coalition of farm and food activists submitted almost a quarter of a million (nearly 240,000) petitions calling on both the Justice Department and USDA to take swift action to curb the abusive market power that a handful of corporations exert over farmers and consumers.

“While we’re encouraged by the administration’s year-long investigation, it’s time to fulfill President Obama’s 2008 election promise to end big food’s antitrust abuses,” said Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now! “Hundreds of thousands of Americans from across the country stand behind this administration to reign in excessive concentration in agriculture and we expect real action to be taken to break up the biggest offenders.”

“The way the current food system operates benefits big agricultural corporations, which are getting bigger all the time-at the expense of ordinary people and the environment,” said Nikhil Aziz of Grassroots International. “Small farmers, farm workers and consumers alike are asserting their rights, which ultimately will ensure a more equitable food system and a cooler planet,” he added. Over the past year, thousands of family farmers and consumers have packed the workshops on”Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy,” hosted jointly by the two Departments. From Ankeny, Iowa, and Normal, Alabama, to Madison, Wisconsin, and Fort Collins, Colorado, ordinary people have come forward to testify on panels and speak out about the handful of companies that control our food supply. The workshops have appropriately focused on farmers and livestock producers, but they are supported by thousands of consumers, food activists, antihunger advocates, and others who want a fair and equitable food system.