The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today the dates and locations of joint public workshops that will explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The workshops, which were first announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Aug. 5, 2009, are the first joint DOJ/USDA workshops ever to be held to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The all-day workshops, which will begin in March 2010, will be held in Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin.

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 experience in the agriculture sector.

Each workshop may feature keynote speakers, general expert panels, and break-out panels that will address more narrowly-focused issues. At each workshop, the public will have an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments.

The attendance and participation of the public is encouraged throughout the series of workshops. With the goals of generating further dialogue and understanding the issues, the workshops will involve farmers, ranchers, processors, consumer groups, agribusinesses, government officials, and academics. This collection of stakeholders will create a forum for discussion and will ensure various industry perspectives.

The DOJ and USDA are also asking for comments in advance of the workshops. Interested parties should submit written comments in both paper and electronic form to the Department of Justice no later than Dec. 31, 2009. All comments received will be publicly posted. Two paper copies should be addressed to the Legal Policy Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 5th Street, NW, Suite 11700, Washington, D.C. 20001. The electronic version of each comment should be submitted to agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov.

Additional updates and information, including agendas and speakers, will be posted on the Antitrust Division’s events web site at www.usdoj.gov/atr/events.htm.