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March 2, 2010
1:40 PM

CONTACT: Food Policy & Farm Advocates

David Goodner, Iowa CCI, 515.282.0484,
Dave Murphy, Food Democracy Now!, 917.968.7369,
Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch, 202.683.2465,
Kathy Ozer, National Family Farm Coalition, 202.421.4544,

Family Farmers, Consumer Advocates, and Organized Labor to Feds: Bust Up Big Ag

Food democracy townhall meeting in Ankeny, IA one day prior to the federal anti-trust workshop will push DOJ, USDA, and Congress to bust the trusts and put people before profits

DES MOINES, Iowa - March 2 - A coalition of local, state, and national community, consumer, farmer, and labor organizations is holding a townhall meeting, "Unleash Food Democracy:  Taking on Corporate Power in our Food Supply", Thursday, March 11, at 7pm at the Best Western Hotel in Ankeny, Iowa, as a response to the joint U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) anti-trust workshop in Ankeny on Friday, March 12. 

"The corporate control of our food system by multinationals like Cargill, Monsanto, and Wal-Mart is devastating to consumers, farmers, workers, and the environment," said Barb Kalbach, an Iowa CCI board member and fourth-generation family farmer from Dexter, Iowa in Adair County.

Decades of bad farm policy and unchecked corporate mergers have driven independent family farmers out of business and created powerful corporate factory farms and agribusiness giants that dominate the market. More than 85 percent of U.S. beef cattle are slaughtered by just four companies, two companies control more than half of U.S. corn seed, one company controls 40 percent of the U.S. fluid milk supply, and five corporations dominate the grocery sector.  With fewer players involved at every step in the food chain, consumers pay more and farmers and workers get paid less, while the multinational corporations' share of the retail dollar continues to climb.

"After years of ignoring the corporate concentration and lack of competition in our food system, the DOJ and USDA are finally admitting that there might be a problem," said Dave Murphy of Food Democracy Now! from Clear Lake, Iowa in Cerro Gordo County.   "Unfortunately family farmers, consumer advocates, and organized labor are underrepresented on the panels at the DOJ/USDA anti-trust workshop.  This grassroots townhall meeting is essential to ensure that the voices of the people most affected by this problem are heard loud and clear."

The people's anti-trust townhall meeting on March 11 - the night before the DOJ/USDA anti-trust workshop on March 12 - will feature testimony from farmers, experts, and leaders in the national food democracy movement.  Top officials and staff from DOJ, USDA, and Iowa's congressional delegation have all been invited and/or confirmed their attendance. 

"The grassroots have the solutions," Kalbach said.  "It's time to bust up big ag, pass policies that promote sustainable agriculture and local markets, and put people before profits and polluters."

The event is free and open to the public, but ticketed due to limited seating.  In order to ensure unfettered access for camerapersons, photographers, and news journalists, we ask that interested media outlets please RSVP so that we may accommodate your needs. 

To register for the townhall meeting, email David Goodner at or call

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement is a group of everyday people who talk, act and get things done on issues that matter most. With thousands of members from all walks of life -- urban and rural, black and white, immigrants and lifelong Iowans -- CCI has been tackling tough issues and getting things done for 35 years.

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