A First Principles Approach to Antitrust Enforcement in the Agricultural Industry

Geoffrey Manne, Joshua Wright, Apr 29, 2010

In March 2010, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the United States Department of Agriculture began a series of workshops aimed at addressing competition policy issues facing the agricultural sector in the 21st century. While antitrust enforcement has a long history in the agricultural sector, the current workshops, combined with recent policy speeches by Antitrust Division officials and enforcement activity, suggest a reinvigorated regulatory interest in the sector. As Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney noted in her remarks kicking off the recent workshops, it is certainly true that competition policy in agriculture markets has some unique features that generate intense interest from a variety of economic and political stakeholders. Varney sensibly emphasized the unprecedented nature of the workshops:

This really is a historic undertaking. These workshops have brought together all the governmental agencies with a stake in the improvement of agricultural markets-Congress, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Justice, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, state executives and state law enforcement-and they have elicited an impressive level of popular engagement. We have received voluminous comments, and are extremely enthusiastic about the energy and initiative that all involved have shown in bringing these workshops together. It gives us confidence that we will be able to achieve our goal: a holisti

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