USDA, Justice Dept. plan joint agriculture competition workshops
USDA and the Department of Justice will hold joint “public workshops,” starting in 2010, to explore competition issues affecting the agriculture industry, and the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement in agriculture. “For the first time ever, farmers, ranchers, consumer groups, agribusinesses and the federal government will openly discuss legal and economic issues associated with competition in the agriculture industry,” said Christine A.Varney, who heads DOJ’s antitrust division. “This is an important step forward in determining the best course of action to address the unique competition issues in agriculture.”
The agencies said the workshop will discuss competition in agriculture markets, including buyer power and vertical integration. They will also ask for examples of “potentially anticompetitive conduct.” The goals of the workshops include listening and learning “from parties with real-world experience in the agriculture sector.”
Information about the dates and locations of the workshops, which will be open to the public, will be announced later. The agencies said some may be held in Washington, D.C., while others will be held regionally.