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May 10, 2000 GC-055

Church calls for anti-trust probe of agriculture

CLEVELAND (UMNS) – United Methodism’s highest legislative body agreed May 10 to ask the U.S. attorney general to investigate agriculture with regard to possible violations of anti-trust legislation.

The denomination’s General Conference, meeting May 2-12, accepted without debate a request from the Nebraska Annual (regional) Conference to call for "an immediate and comprehensive investigation" into the concentration of the production, marketing, processing and pricing of all major farm commodities.

The resolution urges the attorney general to look for possible violations of the Sherman Anti-trust Act. The petition cites a 1999 report, compiled by three faculty members at the University of Missouri, that said an oligopoly of agribusinesses controls 40 percent or more of the food- processing business and is increasing its control of production.

Two-thirds of the United Methodist churches in the United States are in rural areas, according to the resolution. It also notes that the number of family farms in the United States has decreased from 6 million to 2 million during the last three decades.

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-- Joretta Purdue

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