Updated May 12, 2019

Bernie Sanders: What to know about his trustbusting plan for farmers

Photo: Joe Sohm/Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images

2020 Democrat Bernie Sanders unveiled a multifaceted, comprehensive plan to help revitalize rural farming communities and break up Big Agriculture corporations like Bayer-Monsanto and John Deere by enacting "Roosevelt-style trust-busting laws."

"For far too long, government farm policies have incentivized a 'get big or get out' approach to agriculture. This approach has consolidated the entire food system, reducing farm net income, and driving farmers off the land in droves. As farms disappear, so do the businesses, jobs, and communities they support."

Why it matters: America's farmers are living through the worst economic crisis in almost 30 years, driven by low commodity prices, trade war pressures and record flooding. The Agriculture Department has disbursed $7.7 billion in aid to farmers in an effort to reduce the negative effects of retaliatory tariffs stemming from President Trump's trade war.

Key details:
  • Corporation busts: Sanders wants to pause all future mergers and vertical integration of large agribusiness corporations and break up "existing massive agribusinesses."
  • Climate change: The plan aims to incentivize farmers to help sequester greenhouse gas emissions from farming and enforce the Clean Air and Water Acts for large, factory farms. "The current administration lacks the will to enforce [federal laws], particularly on mega-farms. Regulations should be scale-appropriate, and focus attention on the operations with largest impact," the proposal says.
  • Revitalize rural communities: The proposal emphasizes the need for education and job training, while also tying in paid child care, quality health care through his "Medicare for All" plan, and reformed immigration labor laws.
Arguments in favor of Sanders' plan
  • Sanders' plan goes beyond trustbusting and advocates for much more government involvement in price controls and the supply and demand of agricultural commodities.
  • Investment in social and economic programs will target struggling rural communities.
Arguments against Sanders' plan
  • Sanders has no price tag for how much his plan will cost.
  • The regulations could turn off pro-business voters.

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