Workshops to explore competition and regulation issues in ag

Mar 5, 2010
by WLJ

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and USDA announced Feb. 23 the agenda and panelists for the first joint public workshop, scheduled for March 12 in Ankeny, IA, to explore competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The workshop will take place at the Des Moines Area Community College’s FFA Enrichment Center.

The workshops, which were first announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder Aug. 5, 2009, are the first joint US- DA/DOJ workshops ever scheduled to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The goals of the workshops are 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. Attendance at the workshops is free and open to the public. The general public and media interested in attending the initial workshop should register at https://go.dmacc. edu/ffa/agworkshop.

Vilsack and the DOJ Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division Christine Varney will participate in the workshop and will be joined by Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey and Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller. They will participate in a roundtable discussion with presentations on current issues affecting farmers. Two panels focusing on the competitive dynamics in the seed industry and trends in contracting, transparency and buyer power will follow. The first day of the workshops will end with an enforcer roundtable and public testimony. — WLJ