"New Book Details How ‘Barons’ Took Over American Agriculture"

"Iowa’s food landscape can become like Italy’s — if the “barons” who captured the American farmstand can be defeated, a new book argues.

“Barons,” published Tuesday by Austin Frerick, a native Iowan and Yale University food policy fellow, argues that a runaway process of monopoly has gutted rural America while bleeding the taste from American food.

In the book, Frerick tells the story of the consolidation of American agriculture since the 1970s through the rise of seven “baronial” families that rose to dominate entire sectors of a once-diversified American food system.

The subjects of these agricultural sagas range from the Waltons’ conquest of the grocery market, in which Walmart now has the same market share as the second- through eighth-largest grocery chains combined; to the Cargill-MacMillan family’s consolidation of a quarter of the grain market; to the McCloskey family’s commanding position in dairy."

Saul Elbein reports for The Hill March 26, 2024.

Source: The Hill, 03/27/2024