Agricultural supporters remain skeptical about the approval of a recent merger and fantasize of the impacts the merger will have on American agriculture.
The Federal Trade Commission approved plans for the Amazon-Whole Foods merger Wednesday. The merger, worth $13.7 billion, is the largest U.S. retail merger this year.
Food and Water Watch Research Director Patrick Woodall believes the merger has potential to seriously effect smaller and organic farmers, supplying Whole Foods stores across the country.
“Amazon’s race for scale and efficiency at lower prices is going to make it harder for the thousands of farmers who are able to get (their product) onto store shelves in Whole Foods to stay in the marketplace,” Woodall said. “We think the Federal Trade Commission should have looked at the impact this mega-merger will have downstream on the suppliers, both farmers and innovative food manufacturers.”
Bob Young is Chief Economist for the American Farm Bureau Federation. Young said he does not believe the merger will do harm to the agriculture industry, and is interested to see how the merger will benefit American agriculture.
“I think there’s a lot that the rest of us don’t know yet. First off, why Amazon wants to move in this direction, why they want this chain. I think they view themselves as a more high-end retailer, and Whole Foods is a high-end retailer as well. You could certainly tell a story that they will move more toward a local food supply and meet high-end, community supported agriculture, taking it to a whole different level than before, but I don’t know how this is going to unfold,” Young said.
Moving forward, Woodall encourages Amazon to maintain current agreements with farmers, as well as bring more local, small, organic farmers into the marketplace. In a way, Young mirrored Woodall’s response, with hopes for Amazon to recognize the importance of local farmers, as well as the quality product local farmers provide.
“It certainly is an opportunity for them to move into that space and to help strengthen that space,” Young said. “At the same time, I also hope they would – I think some folks in production agriculture view Whole Foods in one way – not become another Chipotle.”