WASHINGTON, January 3, 2022 – Speaking at a White House event focused on competition in agriculture, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland expressed their shared commitment to effectively enforce federal laws on competition that protect farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers and producers from anti-competitive practices, including antitrust laws and the Packers and Stockyards Act. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Justice are already working together to support their respective enforcement efforts. As part of this ongoing process, they today released the following statement of principles and commitments:
- Farmers, ranchers and other producers and growers deserve the benefits of free and fair competition. The Department of Justice and USDA therefore prioritize issues impacting competition in agriculture.
- The agencies will jointly develop within 30 days a centralized and accessible process for farmers, ranchers and other growers and growers to file complaints about potential violations of antitrust laws and the Packer and Stockyard Act. Agencies will protect complainant privacy if they request it to the fullest extent possible under the law and are also committed to supporting relevant whistleblower protections, including newly enforceable protections. for criminal antitrust complainants against unlawful retaliation.
- Agencies will work together to promote effective information sharing and case cooperation, including the processes that agencies will follow to effectively handle a complaint.
- The two agencies are committed to vigorously enforcing laws that protect farmers, ranchers and other producers and growers from unfair, deceptive, discriminatory and anti-competitive practices. Where appropriate, the USDA will report or report potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act to the Department of Justice to better enable its antitrust division to pursue meritorious competition-related cases and allow agencies to collaborate. on matters of mutual interest. Additionally, the Department of Justice and USDA will work together to identify and highlight areas where Congress can help modernize these toolkits.
“For too long, producers across the country have faced a market that benefits a few big companies rather than those who grow our food,” Agriculture Secretary Vilsack said. “This means consumers pay more and farmers, ranchers and producers see less profit. The pandemic has only further disrupted these challenges along the supply chain, exposing a rigid, consolidated and fragile food system. Enforcement of antitrust and market regulations is essential to enable the competition necessary to transform our concentrated supply chains into diverse and resilient food systems. These are complex and difficult areas of law, and our authorities are 100 years or more old, but I am encouraged to reaffirm our shared commitment to tackle these challenges together.
“The Department of Justice takes very seriously the responsibility we share with our partners across the federal government to protect consumers, preserve competition and ensure economic opportunity and fairness for all,” said the prosecutor. General Garland. “Over the past ten months, we have intensified our efforts to ensure competition and combat anti-competitive practices in all sectors – from airlines to insurance brokers to book publishers. And we will continue to vigorously enforce our antitrust laws, regardless of industry, business, and individual. “