Tuesday, November 24, 2009

USDA Department of Justice Workshops

The USDA and the Department of Justice have set dates for the 2o10 workshops, http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2009/11/0572.xml. The original issue the two agencies targeted was monopoly in agriculture marketplaces, but the subject matter has already expanded. They include:

March 12, 2010 - Issues of Concern to Farmers - Ankeny, Iowa
This event will serve as an introduction to the series of workshops, but also will focus specifically on issues facing crop farmers. Specific areas of focus may include seed technology, vertical integration, market transparency and buyer power.

May 21, 2010 - Poultry Industry - Normal, Ala.
Specific areas of focus may include production contracts in the poultry industry, concentration and buyer power.

June 7, 2010 - Dairy Industry - Madison, Wisc.
Specific areas of focus may include concentration, marketplace transparency and vertical integration in the dairy industry.

Aug. 26, 2010 - Livestock Industry - Fort Collins, Colo.
Specific areas of focus will address beef, hog and other animal sectors and may include enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act and concentration.

Dec. 8, 2010 - Margins - Washington, D.C.
This workshop will look at the discrepancies between the prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers. As a concluding event, discussions from previous workshops will be incorporated into the analysis of agriculture markets nationally.

The planners seek additional comments to plan these and additional workshops. Submit written comments in both paper and electronic form to the Department of Justice no later than Dec. 31, 2009. All comments received will be publicly posted. Two paper copies should be addressed to the Legal Policy Section, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 450 5th Street, NW, Suite 11700, Washington, D.C. 20001. The electronic version of each comment should be submitted to agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov.

This is an opportunity to shape agricultural policy. The overwhelmingly negative responses to NAIS were heard in this past year's Listening Sessions, and mandatory NAIS is now on the back burner. NAIS is, for now, still voluntary. We can make a difference.

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