The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) announced a major new policy publication on July 22nd.

The publication, entitled “A Food and Agricultural Policy for the 21st Century,” results from a major effort by multidisciplinary experts on farm and food policy. The 17 participants included agricultural economists, rural sociologists, antitrust attorneys, agricultural historians, political scientists and nonprofit organizational leaders.

“In this day of unprecedented prosperity, farm families got left behind and Rural America is in crisis,” said Fred Stokes, president of OCM. “As the public and policy makers consider alternatives to address this crisis, I hope that this document is widely used to bring more balance and reason to this crucial debate,” Stokes added.

Edited by Michael C. Stumo, the document provides guidelines for a better farm and food system that focuses on four areas: antitrust policy, conventional farm programs, whole food system strategies and agricultural research policy. Additionally, many of the participants themselves contributed individual papers addressing cutting edge issues of public concern.

For instance, Dr. Neil Harl explains why “the greatest economic threat to farmers as independent entrepreneurs is the deadly combination of concentration and vertical integration.”

Albert A. Foer, president of the American Antitrust Institute, shows in a piece entitled “Baked Lasagna” how the spiraling concentration of the retail and processing sectors requires that “the federal antitrust laws should be used expansively to preserve as much of the remaining competition as possible.”

Dr. Daryll Ray of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Center at the University of Tennessee explains why the experiment that is the 1996 Farm Bill has failed, and where we go from here.

Beyond concentration issues, participants also considered the biotechnological age, a short history of agricultural institutions, whether farmers and agribusiness are partners or competitors, and the social justice impact of the food system.

“A Food and Agriculture Policy for the 21st Century” can be downloaded for free online at www.competitivemarkets.com. Printed copies (113 pages) are available for $17.00 plus $3.00 shipping and handling by writing Organization for Competitive Markets, P.O. Box 6486, Lincoln, NE 68506. Online ordering should be available as of the first week of August.

The Organization for Competitive Markets is a multidisciplinary, nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring open and truly competitive markets to agriculture for the benefit of farmers, ranchers and rural communities.