From Big Ag to Big Finance: a market network approach to power in agriculture

Loka Ashwood, Andy Pilny, John Canfield, Mariyam Jamila, Ryan Thomson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Critics charge that agriculture has reached an unsustainable level of consolidation and expropriation, as exemplified by the supply-chain breakdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneously, advocates suggest the current system serves consumers well by keeping prices low and access to choices high. At the center of this debate rests a disagreement over how to compute market power to identify monopolies and oligopolies. We propose a method to study power across different sectors by using Social Network Analysis (SNA) to analyze key players, the presence of core-periphery structures, and agricultural consolidation. We test our market network approach to power through an analysis of the top ten pork powerhouses. We find that Big Finance is closely tied to Big Ag, and that key players limit the capacity for more peripheral actors, like growers, equipment producers, and regional banks, to engage in the network. We identify system level risk of collapse and suggest pathways for reform.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1421-1434
Number of pages14
JournalAgriculture and Human Values
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Corporate agriculture
  • Financialization
  • Hog production
  • Market power
  • Monopolies
  • Oligopolies
  • Social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science


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