Barons: Money, Power, and the Corruption of America’s Food Industry

Island Pr. Mar. 2024. 248p. ISBN 9781642832693. $29. POL SCI
Agricultural and antitrust policy expert Frerick’s debut book studies seven leading food companies and their leaders. The companies dominate their industries—hogs, grain, coffee, dairy, berries, beef, and retail grocery—and the author considers what he argues are the harmful effects of consolidation within these fields. He says such businesses lack robust competition. Therefore, dominant companies can exercise their power largely unhindered; exploit their customers, employees, and suppliers; and extract wealth (instead of reinvesting) from the communities where they operate. He says all this is compounded by the weakening of antitrust policy in much of the U.S. economy. He maintains that the seven sectors of the food industry are all consolidated, centralized, and corrupt. He advocates for breaking the power of the monopolistic firms; transforming them into systems where food is produced and sold locally at affordable prices; and paying people who work in the food industry fair and higher wages.
VERDICT For readers with a serious interest in public policy and food production.
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