Elizabeth Warren takes on Big Agriculture

It's the latest in a long list of policy deep-dives for Warren, a 2020 White House contender.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released a proposal to take on corporate agribusiness Wednesday. CREDIT: by Scott Olson/Getty Images
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) released a proposal to take on corporate agribusiness Wednesday. CREDIT: by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Democratic presidential contender Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) announced a new plan on Wednesday to take on corporate agriculture and support family farms, adding to her already-extensive list of policy proposals that includes universal child care and a framework for breaking up big tech companies.

“Today a farmer can work hard, do everything right — even get great weather — and still not make it,” Warren wrote in a Medium post outlining her proposals.

“It’s not because farmers today are any less resilient, enterprising, or committed than their parents and grandparents were. It’s because bad decisions in Washington have consistently favored the interests of multinational corporations and big business lobbyists over the interests of family farmers.”

The extensive policy outline is the most recent in a series from Warren, most of which have focused on taking on big corporations and elevating the middle class. The farming proposal could have a particular effect on Iowa, the first state in primary voting.


As noted by the Des Moines Register, which first reported on the plan, nearly 90 percent of Iowa is farmland. Rural parts of the state in particular have been hit hard by corporate consolidation: According to the U.S. Agricultural Census, the state lost 32,600 farms during a 30-year period that ended in 2012.

Warren’s plan would reverse the recent Bayer-Monsanto merger and break up corporate agricultural businesses that have become too vertically integrated. In her Medium outline, the Massachusetts senator pointed to one particular agribusiness, Tyson, which controls “nearly every aspect of bringing chicken to market,” as another example. She also says she would appoint “trustbusters” to reverse anti-competitive agriculture mergers.

Additionally, Warren proposes a national “right-to-repair” law, which would allow farmers to fix their own equipment or take it to a mechanic, instead of mandating that such fixes be made only by “authorized agents.”

She also proposed establishing new country-of-origin rules that would require beef and pork producers to label where their livestock was raised and slaughtered.

“Iowa feels this very directly,” Warren told the Register recently. “The number of purchasers of soybeans or hogs has shrunk dramatically. The number of seed providers has shrunk dramatically, and the diversity of the seeds has shrunk. Concentration in those industries has put a real squeeze on small- and medium-sized farms in Iowa.”


In the early days of the presidential primary contest, Warren has made a concerted effort to be a candidate who focuses on substance.

In an interview on Late Night With Stephen Colbert earlier this week, the comedian and television host noted that Warren has released more proposals than anyone else in the Democratic presidential primary field.

“I love these ideas. And let me tell you why. It’s about how we can make real change,” she said, before outlining her wealth tax proposal — which would levy a 2 percent tax on fortunes worth more than $50 million to massive cheers from the audience.

“We can make government work for us but right now what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to put the ideas out there about how to do that.”

Warren’s plan to take on corporate farmers comes ahead of a trip to Iowa to speak at a rural issues forum. Similarly, her plan to break up big technology companies came just days before an appearance at the SXSW festival, a major gathering for the industry.