Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Justice Department and USDA to Hold Public Workshops to Explore Competition Issues in the Agriculture Industry

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

According to the DOJ press release there will be a series of conferences.  I hope that DOJ takes my previous advice and begins each panel by asking each panelist who has paid for their testimony.  There needs to be more transparency in the process and I believe that law firms and academics need to disclose any financial ties they have that might influence their testimony:

Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will hold joint public workshops to explore competition issues affecting the agriculture industry in the 21st century and the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement in that industry. 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 joint Department of Justice/USDA workshops will address the dynamics of competition in agriculture markets including, among other issues, buyer power (also known as monopsony) and vertical integration. They will examine legal doctrines and jurisprudence and current economic learning, and will provide an opportunity for farmers, ranchers, consumer groups, processors, the agribusinesses, and other interested parties to provide examples of potentially anticompetitive conduct. The workshops will also provide an opportunity for discussion for any concerns about the application of the antitrust laws to the agricultural 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 agriculture sector.

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