Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder have announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) 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 USDA/DOJ workshops ever to be held to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry.

The 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.

“It is important to have a fair and competitive marketplace that benefits agriculture, rural economies and American consumers,” said Vilsack. “The workshops … will allow a dialogue on very important issues facing agriculture today.”

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