Mar 4, 2010

DOJ/Antitrust: Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy

U.S. Department of Justice Seal and Link to DOJ Home Page Antitrust Division, Department of Justice

Workshop Information
The U.S. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will hold a series of joint public workshops to explore competition issues affecting the agricultural sector in the 21st century and the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement in that industry. The first workshop will be held in early 2010.
This page provides information on:
Overview of the Workshops
Issues for Consideration
Dates, Locations, and Topics
Press Releases
Federal Register Notices
Public Comments
Submitting Comments

Overview of the Workshops
These are the first joint Department of Justice/USDA workshops ever to be held to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The goals of the workshops are to promote dialogue among interested parties and foster learning with respect to the appropriate legal and economic analyses of these issues as well as to listen to and learn from parties with real-world experience in the agricultural sector.

The workshops will address the dynamics of competition in agriculture markets, including buyer power (monopsony) and vertical integration. They will examine legal doctrines and jurisprudence, as well as current economic learning, and will provide an opportunity for farmers, ranchers, consumer groups, processors, agribusiness, and other interested parties to provide examples of potentially anticompetitive conduct and to discuss any concerns about the application of the antitrust laws to the agricultural sectors. The workshops will be transcribed and placed on the public record along with submissions and written comments received.

Issues for Consideration
Topics that will be covered during the workshops include the following:
Application of antitrust laws to monopsony and vertical integration in the agricultural sector, including the scope, functionality, and limits of current or potential rules
Impact of agriculture concentration on food costs
The effect of agricultural regulatory statutes or other applicable laws and programs on competition
Issues relating to patents and intellectual property affecting agricultural marketing or production
Market practices such as:
Price spreads
Forward contracts
Packer ownership of livestock before slaughter
Market transparency
Increasing retailer concentration
Dates, Locations, and Topics

March 12, 2010 - Ankeny, Iowa
Issues of Concern to Farmers
Introduction to the workshops series with a focus on the issues facing crop farmers. Discussion topics may include seed technology, vertical integration, market transparency and buyer power.

Register for the Iowa Workshop
Agenda for the Iowa Workshop
Directions and Map
May 21, 2010 - Normal, Alabama
Poultry Industry
Discussion topics may include production contracts in the poultry industry, concentration and buyer power.

June 7, 2010 - Madison, Wisconsin
Dairy Industry
Discussion topics may include concentration, marketplace transparency and vertical integration in the dairy industry.

August 26, 2010 - Fort Collins, Colorado
Livestock Industry
This workshop will focus on beef, hog and other animal sectors. Topics may include enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act and concentration.
December 8, 2010 - Washington, D.C.
This workshop will look at the discrepancies between the prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers. As a concluding event, discussions from previous workshops will be incorporated into the analysis of agriculture markets nationally.
There's so much variety in our food system - what do you mean I don't have choices?

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