Department of Justice to Explore Competition in Agriculture | Civil Eats

Department of Justice to Explore Competition in Agriculture

Yesterday, the news wire sparked with some really good news — Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack are joining together to hold public discussions on “competition issues affecting the agriculture industry in the 21st century and the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement in that industry.” This is the first time any such talks will have been held on an industry that is massively consolidated and under-regulated.

For example, did you know that in 2006, 83.5% of beef-packing was controlled by 4 companies, same goes for 66% of pork packing, 58.5% of the chicken processing and 55% of turkey processing. Similar numbers exist for the seed companies, the grain processors bringing animal feed to feedlots and HFCS to most of the packaged foods in the supermarket, and the supermarket retailers themselves. Numbers this high indicate a lack of competition.

For more information on trusts in the agricultural sector, please take a look at a recent post I wrote on the subject.

And also, the Justice Department invites interested parties to submit comments on what should be discussed and considered at these meetings by December 31st, 2009 to: agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov Agendas and schedules for the early 2010 meetings will be forthcoming on the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division website: www.usdoj.gov/atr

h/t Tom Laskawy of Beyond Green and Grist

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Paula Crossfield is a founder and the Editor-at-large of Civil Eats. She is also a co-founder of the Food & Environment Reporting Network. Her reporting has been featured in The Nation, Gastronomica, Index Magazine, The New York Times and more, and she has been a contributing producer at The Leonard Lopate Show on New York Public Radio. An avid cook and gardener, she currently lives in Oakland. Read more >

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  1. I'm not ready to do cartwheels just yet, but it's incredibly encouraging to see these conversations taking place. Thanks for the post.

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