Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder announced Wednesday that USDA and the Department of Justice will hold joint public workshops to look at competition issues affecting the ag industry and the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement within the industry. The workshops will point to the dynamics of competition in ag markets and provide an opportunity for discussion over concerns about the application of the antitrust laws to the industry.
The workshops aim to foster learning with respect to the appropriate legal and economic analyses of the issues along with listening to parties with actual experience in the ag industry. The first workshop will be early in 2010, located in Washington D.C. or other locations in various regions of the U.S.
Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney said this is an important step in determining the best course of action for the ag industry because for the first time ever farmers, ranchers, consumers groups, agribusinesses and the government will openly discuss legal and economic issues associate with competition in the industry.
Secretary Vilsack said the joint workshops will allow a dialogue on very important issues facing agriculture today. Attorney General Holder said maintaining a robust ag sector is crucial to the strength of the American economy. He said the departments are committed to ensuring that competition and regulatory actions benefit all American consumers and businesses.
The press and public are invited to attend the hearings. Details about the time and location of workshops will be available later at www.usdoj.gov/atr.