Publications: Corporate Farming Laws

Market Concentration, Horizontal Consolidation, and Vertical Integration in the Hog and Cattle Industries: Taking Stock of the Road Ahead

Harrison M. Pittman Research Assistant Professor of Law National Agricultural Law Center

The level of market concentration in virtually every segment of the agricultural sector in the United States has increased significantly over the past several decades. The number of firms and actors within the sector, including producers, input suppliers, output processors, and food retailers, has decreased as their size has increased.  The hog and cattle industries are two portions of the agricultural sector that have been the focus of recent litigation due to market concentration concerns brought about by horizontal consolidation and vertical integration.  The Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 (PSA) and anti-corporate farming laws, both of which have been the basis of recent judicial activity, are two legal mechanisms implicated in the debate over market concentration in the hog and cattle industries. This article reviews the status of the PSA and corporate farming laws in light of the decisions in London v. Fieldale Farms, Corp., Pickett v. Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., South Dakota Farm Bureau, Inc. v. Hazeltine, and Smithfield Foods, Inc. v. Miller.  The article also examines the historical development and current structure of the hog and cattle industries and presents a brief overview of the PSA and corporate farming laws.    Download this article Posted:  August 14, 2005

The Constitutionality of Corporate Farming Laws In the Eighth Circuit

Harrison M. Pittman Staff Attorney The National Agricultural Law Center

Several states have enacted statutory or constitutional provisions that limit the power of corporations to engage in farming or agriculture, or to acquire, purchase, or otherwise obtain land that is used or usable for agricultural production.  Such legal provisions are commonly referred to as corporate farming laws.  Most corporate farming laws are enacted as statutes rather than constitutional amendments.  Proponents of corporate farming laws argue that these laws are necessary to protect family farms from the negative economic consequences of competition with corporate-owned or corporate-operated agricultural operations.  Opponents of corporate farming laws argue that these laws are unconstitutional and an impediment to a vibrant free trade economy among the states.   Download this article. Posted:  June 14, 2004