The Departments of Justice and Agriculture have announced an updated schedule and panelists for the first joint public workshop to explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The goals of the workshop is 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.
U.S. Senators Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., sent letters to Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder urging the Administration to ensure the events are balanced and reflective of the diverse agriculture industry. The Senators further expressed concern that any review include careful consideration of any unintended consequences of government intervention in the market and that the workshops themselves not be used as a venue for public scrutiny of agricultural businesses that are already subject to existing antitrust laws.
This first workshop will be held Friday in Ankeny, Iowa, at the FFA Enrichment Center at Des Moines Area Community College. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Antitrust Division Christine Varney will participate in the workshop. Also participating will be Iowa Lt. Governor Patty Judge, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller and Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey.
They will participate in a roundtable discussion with presentations on current issues affecting farmers. Testimony and roundtable discussion by a panel of farmers will follow. The workshop will also feature two panels focusing on the competitive dynamics in the seed industry and trends in contracting, transparency and buyer power. The workshop will end with an enforcer roundtable and public testimony.