AG Ellison makes antitrust a priority when meeting with Minnesota farmers

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(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison visited Oronoco Wednesday to make sure there’s an economy where everyone has a fair shot, including farmers.

When it comes to farmers getting their share, Attorney General Ellison said getting it fixed all starts with ‘you thinking this isn’t right.’

"I’d like to see more young people get on the farms and stuff. But it’s kind of out of reach for most of them anymore. It’s just too much money to invest in," said Marty Franko, a retired farmer who lives in the Mantorville area.

The 91-year-old has been with the Farmers Union for about 60 years. He said there were a number of years where he didn’t make more than a dollar an hour farming. Today, he can’t believe how people can get wages yet still struggle financially.

"I hope someday it straightens it out and gets better. But then by God, I don’t know if it will or not, I hope we don’t get into a recession."

So how much do farmers make when you buy groceries? According to the National Farmers Union, if one pound of bacon is $6.99 at retail price, farmers only get $1.07 in return. Or, if someone buys a six-pack of beer for $9.99, farmers only get $0.05 from that purchase.

To try and have more fair markets, Ellison is devoting more staff to antitrust and prosecuting more antitrust cases. Protecting people like farmers from unfair business practices.

"It’s all about the power the relative parties have in the market. We need more power in your hand so you can change the percentage up. Guess what, these retailers will still make money and they’ll be alright. They don’t even have to up the price. They just got to share the wealth," said Ellison.

It’s an issue that hits close to home for the Attorney General.

"Look, my family has a history in farming and some of the best childhood memories I have is having my grandmother make biscuits from scratch, [and] going out on the tractor with my uncle. When folks said ‘hey, look, I’d love to stay on this farm but we can’t make it go because of the economic unfairness’ that doesn’t just hit my head, that hits my heart too. So that’s kind of where it is for me."

If you are concerned about not getting your fair share, you can contact Consumer Services with the Attorney General’s office by calling 651-296-3353. You can also call toll-free at 800-657-3787.