Agriculture Secretary Vilsack on Final USDA-DOJ Competition Workshop

9 12 2010

Press release courtesy of USDA:

WASHINGTON, December 8, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Vilsack spoke at the Final USDA-DOJ Competition workshop. 

See below for Secretary Vilsack’s Remarks as prepared for delivery:

I want to welcome everyone to the fifth and final joint competition workshop between the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice.

Today, we will focus more generally on a number of issues. We will explore and better understand how livestock and other agricultural commodities move through the system, and the dynamics and challenges within each segment of the food marketing chain. We will explore margins in the livestock, poultry and dairy industries. And lastly, we will focus on the potential implications of consolidation in the retailing sector.

These workshops have been very beneficial to help us understand the issues that are of most concern and deserve closer attention.

The issue of agricultural competition is complex. The ever-changing nature of the sector suggests the need to ask questions and shed light on issues that frankly have not seen light in many years.

President Obama provided clear direction that government should be open and transparent and that is what these workshops are designed to do. We want to have a public dialogue on these issues.

We have held workshops around the country to explore the appropriate role for antitrust or regulatory enforcement in the agricultural industry. In March, we held a workshop on seed concentration and hog market issues in Ankeny, Iowa. In May, we gathered in Normal, Alabama, to discuss poultry issues. In June, we discussed dairy issues in Madison, Wisconsin. And in August, we explored competition in livestock markets in Fort Collins, Colorado.

In these workshops, and in my travels across the country, a number of themes have emerged: Producers want to have or maintain marketing options, they want transparency, they want access to markets, they have fewer buyers with whom to do business with, they struggle with debt and face challenges accessing capital, and last, they just want to be treated fairly and be respected.

To read Secretary Vilsack’s full remarks visit   http://usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentidonly=true&contentid=2010/12/0641.xml

Videos and transcripts from Wednesday’s workshop will be available for review at a later date on the Antitrust Division’s website at  www.justice.gov/atr/public/workshops/ag2010/index.htm#dates. Individuals seeking more information on the workshops should contact  agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov.

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