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Meet the Author

March 26, 2024
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Austin Frerick | Barons: Money, Power, and the Corruption of America’s Food Industry

@ Franklin Avenue Library

Join CCI member Austin Frerick for a talk and Q & A based on his new book, Barons: Money, Power, and the Corruption of America’s Food Industry.

Austin’s book is a deep dive into seven barons in the food industry, their rise to power, and the consequences for farmers, workers, eaters, and democracy itself. It prominently features Iowa and the stories of CCI members fighting in the trenches against Big Ag.

Randy Evans, Executive Director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council, will moderate a Q & A.


Austin Frerick is an expert on agricultural and antitrust policy. During the 2020 presidential campaign, he advised candidates Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Pete Buttigieg on agricultural policy before ultimately serving as Co-Chair of the Biden campaign’s Agriculture Antitrust Policy Committee. He is a Fellow of the Thurman Arnold Project at Yale University, an initiative that brings together faculty, students, and scholars to collaborate on research related to competition policy and antitrust enforcement. He also serves on the Board of Directors for Common Good Iowa and the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project. In 2022, The Advocate named him a “Champion of Pride.”

His debut book is scheduled to be published on March 26, 2024, by Island Press. The book, tentatively entitled Barons: Money, Power, and the Corruption of America’s Food Industry, will profile a series of powerful magnates to illustrate the concentration of power in the American food system.  PREORDER HERE

His past publications include an article in Vox profiling one of the country’s most powerful hog barons and an article in The American Conservative arguing that the country’s food and agriculture policy has caused the offshoring of the American food system. He has also published articles in Buzzfeed News, Fast Company, and Forbes, among many other publications. In addition, he authored a report on “America’s Concentration Crisis,” which was discussed extensively by David Leonhardt in a New York Times column and tweeted out by Senator Bernie Sanders and David Axelrod.

He also has a strong track record of organizing conferences and other forums to push the conversation forward on agriculture policy. He recently worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to organize a conference and publish a compendium at Yale Law School entitled “Reforming America’s Food Retail Markets,” which explored competition issues in the nation’s food retail industry. He previously spearheaded other conferences at the Yale Law School, including “Big Ag & Antitrust: Competition Policy for a Sustainable and Humane Food System.” He also created & organized the “Heartland Forum” in Storm Lake, Iowa, the first candidate forum during the 2020 Democratic presidential primary process, which focused on the impacts of economic concentration in rural America.

Austin is a 7th generation Iowan. His mother Kathy managed a beauty salon in his hometown of Cedar Rapids before opening her own bakery. His father Scott delivered and merchandised beer for a local, family-owned beer distributor. Austin’s passion for agriculture comes from spending weekends working with his Grandpa Frerick.

He has held a job since the age of 12, when he started working at the Cedar Rapids Gazette as a paperboy. He attended Grinnell College on merit scholarships and Pell Grants. While in college, Austin wrote two theses on corporate power in Iowa’s slaughterhouse communities. After being the first in his family to graduate from college, Austin attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for graduate school on a full academic scholarship. He has since held positions at the Congressional Research Service and at the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Tax Analysis, where he published research on executive compensation, pharmaceutical corporate charity abuses, and the growth of concentration in the American economy. 

Beaverdale Books will have books available for sale and signing.

This event is hosted by Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.


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