The U.S. Department of Agriculture collaborates with 31 states and Washington, D.C., to tackle price fixing and anticompetitive practices in the food and agriculture sectors.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently announced a collaborative effort with 31 states and Washington, D.C., to address the pressing issue of price fixing and other forms of anticompetitive behavior prevalent in the food and agriculture sectors. This initiative aims to lower food prices and enhance competition, providing a more equitable landscape for farmers, ranchers, and consumers.
For years, farmers and ranchers have voiced their concerns about the unfair contracts and poor prices offered by the largest buyers and processors in the highly consolidated agriculture sector. These grievances have been amplified by months of food price inflation, leading to questions about potential artificial price hikes by companies.
In response to these concerns, the USDA has pledged to coordinate with a bipartisan group of attorneys general on antitrust enforcement. “We can ensure a more robust and competitive agricultural sector,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, highlighting the commitment to address industry practices that have long been a source of contention.
The partnership will focus on anticompetitive practices such as price fixing and gouging. Additionally, new research programs will be established to study these issues in depth, providing valuable insights to inform future enforcement efforts.
In the coming months, the USDA plans to finalize new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act. This century-old antitrust law was designed to protect farmers from anticompetitive conduct, and its modern application could be a significant step towards a more balanced agriculture sector.
The USDA has already proposed two of the three expected rules and plans to disburse additional grants to expand meat and poultry processing capacity. This move is expected to increase options for ranchers, further promoting competition within the sector.
This initiative comes as part of President Joe Biden’s broader commitment to tackle anticompetitive conduct across the economy. The President, along with Secretary Vilsack and other members of his competition council, are scheduled to meet to discuss these issues further.
The collaboration between the USDA and the states represents a significant stride towards a more competitive and fair agriculture sector. By addressing anticompetitive practices and promoting fair pricing, this initiative could mark a new era of equity and competition in American agriculture.
USDA and States Unite to combat anticompetitive behavior in food and agriculture