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USDA, DOJ Hear about Competition Issues

by 5m Editor
24 May 2010, at 11:22pm

US - The USDA and Department of Justice (DOJ) held a workshop on 21 May focused on competition issues in the poultry industry.

The US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice held the second of five joint public workshops on competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The workshop, led by Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and US Attorney General, Eric Holder, focused on issues in the poultry industry, and featured panel discussions on poultry grower issues and trends in poultry production. And, it also included opportunities for public comments.

Mr Vilsack said: "All players in the poultry industry deserve an honest chance at success, and that requires a fair, viable, and competitive marketplace. Today's conversation helped bring a better understanding of the issues impacting growers on a daily basis and provided an opportunity to openly discuss some of the ideas that have been raised to address these concerns."

Attorney General Holder commented: "Secretary Vilsack and I are committed to improving our understanding of how particular agricultural markets function. And, that's why we decided to hold a series of five workshops across the country to examine the challenges facing America's farmers, growers and producers. One thing that already is clear is that competition is crucial to ensuring opportunity and fairness in our agricultural markets. The Department of Justice is committed to working jointly with the Department of Agriculture in protecting competition in those markets."

The meeting on 21 May was the second in a series of workshops that will be held over the next several months. These workshops are the first-ever to be held by the Department of Justice and USDA to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The goals of the workshops are to promote dialogue and foster learning, as well as to listen to and learn from people involved in agriculture.

Attorney General Holder and Secretary Vilsack opened the workshop with short remarks before leading a roundtable discussion on competition issues in agriculture and the broiler industry, followed by a panel of poultry producers from around the country to discuss what they see in the industry on a daily basis. Later, a panel of academics and growers discussed trends in the industry. Officials also received public testimony between panel discussions.

The workshop was held in Normal, Alabama, at the Ernest L. Knight Reception Center at Alabama A&M University, and was attended by several key federal and state leaders, including Congressman Artur Davis, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Antitrust Division Christine Varney, Alabama Attorney General Troy King and Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.