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Chick-News.com Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

USDA Partners with Attorneys General to ‘Enhance’ Competition

07/31/2023

At a recent White House Competition Council meeting, Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, announced a partnership between the USDA and attorneys general in 31 states and D.C.  This arrangement will assist state Attorneys General to address apparent anticompetitive marketing structures in agriculture that have been implicated in maintaining high prices to consumers.

 

Vilsack stated, “The Administration is committed to addressing corporate consolidation and its negative effects on the U. S. economy including unfair competition and increased prices.”  He added, “By placing necessary resources where they are needed most and helping states identify and address anticompetitive and anti-consumer behavior in partnership with federal authorities, we can ensure a more robust and competitive agricultural sector.”

 

The Agricultural Competition Partnership will include an evaluation of market structures and practices in food production, distribution and retail for both meat and poultry.  The Partnership will review the apparent lack of choices for consumers and producers.  Conflicts of interest, misuse of intellectual property and anticompetitive barriers will also be addressed.

 

The USDA is cooperating with the Center for State Enforcement of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Laws, a nonpartisan organization that will provide support.  An oversight committee will also be established to promote transparency standards.  The USDA has allocated $15 million of public funds for competition-related partnerships to support efforts with states Attorneys General.

 

It has been a preoccupation of the present Administration that large integrated meat and poultry production is in some way deleterious to contract growers, independent farmers and consumers.  The perceptions of the Secretary and senior administrators of the USDA ignore the efficiency derived from economies of scale. Current evaluation of production by the USDA discounts the obvious advantages extended to poultry growers who are provided with minimal risk and assured income and according to research, a higher income than operators of family farms not affiliated to an integration.

 

Despite the ongoing opposition to ‘bigness’, the USDA fails to advance an alternative to integrated and large-scale production, distribution and retail sale of agricultural products including beef, pork, chicken, eggs and turkeys. 

 

Efficient enterprises characterized by their size and structure have evolved through efficient use of capital, land and human resources and are reflected in parallel agribusiness enterprises in the World’s major food-producing nations.  Our animal-based food production is among the most efficient in the world.  The system is not broken, and therefore does not need fixing, least of all by under-employed lawyers, environmentalists and social engineers. 


 
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