The National Farmers Union encouraged the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) on Friday to follow through on its recent pledge to provide “vigorous antitrust enforcement” in the agricultural sector.
DOJ released its findings on competition and agriculture stemming from the joint workshops held by DOJ and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2010. The report included the statement that “(t)he sessions confirmed that a healthy agricultural sector requires competition and, consequently, vigorous antitrust enforcement.”
“NFU has long been a proponent of fair markets and competition, so it is good to see the DOJ act on the results of the DOJ-USDA workshops in 2010.” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The workshops in 2010 offered hope that this administration would reverse the decades of under-enforcement of antitrust laws. Economic studies have shown that the top four beef and pork packers dominate their sectors, so it’s clear that oversight is needed to make our markets competitive.”
The long-awaited document summarizes the discussion that took place at the five workshops, which were held around the country and focused on various sectors of the agricultural economy. The report also highlights some of the enforcement actions that have taken place in recent years to address the continued consolidation of agriculture.
The report included statements about DOJ’s new priorities: “as a result of the workshops, the (Antitrust Division of DOJ) has redoubled its efforts to prevent anticompetitive agricultural mergers and conduct. The workshops have enhanced the Division’s efforts to enforce the antitrust laws.”
The report further noted several instances in the last five years of DOJ action on acquisitions in the agriculture sector. Most of these, however, occurred before the 2010 series of workshops.
“This is a positive step toward ensuring that farmers and ranchers have an opportunity to succeed, but much more work remains to be done,” Johnson said. “I look forward to the Antitrust Division of DOJ following through on the statements in the report.”