The U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Agriculture will hold five public workshops during 2010 to explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The workshops' goals 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. The all-day workshops begin March 12 with the first held in Ankeny, Iowa. The remaining workshops will be held in Alabama, Colorado, Washington, D.C. and Wisconsin.
The first workshop, titled issues of concern to farmers, will serve as an introduction to the series of workshops, but also will focus specifically on issues facing crop farmers. Specific areas of focus may include seed technology, vertical integration, market transparency and buyer power. According to Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, these workshops will give farmers, consumers, and agribusinesses the opportunity to provide examples of potentially anticompetitive conduct and to discuss any concerns about the application of the antitrust laws to the agricultural sector.
Future meetings will be held May 21st in Normal, Ala., June 7 in Madison, Wisc., Aug. 26 in Fort Collins, Colo., and Dec. 8 in Washington, D.C. Each workshop may feature keynote speakers, general expert panels, and break-out panels that will address more narrowly-focused issues.