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USDA to increase competition in agriculture sector 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a partnership with attorney generals in 31 states and the District of Columbia to enhance competition and protect consumers in food and agricultural markets, including in grocery, meat, and poultry processing, and other markets. The partnership will assist state attorneys general in tackling anticompetitive market structures in agriculture and related industries that are raising prices and limiting choices for consumers and producers.

This initiative will enhance the capacity of state attorneys general to conduct on-the-ground assessments of competition and consumer issues, enhance coordination between federal and state agriculture and competition authorities, create new and more independent research programs, and ultimately result in fairer and competitive markets and more resilient supply chains. 

In addition, USDA also announced a $15 million investment in partnerships benefiting competition in the agricultural sector. Most of the funding will go to the Center for State Enforcement of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Laws, which is a nonpartisan organization that provides support to the states. The State Center is establishing an oversight committee to assist with USDA and the attorney general’s partnership in identifying transparency standards. In addition, a project selection advisory committee will review project proposals and provide recommendations for approval.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to addressing corporate consolidation and its negative effects on the U.S. economy, such as unfair competition and increased prices,” said USDA Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “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, through these cooperative agreements we can ensure a more robust and competitive agricultural sector. I’m pleased to see that a bipartisan group of states have committed to joining USDA in better protecting the fair and competitive markets that are a critical cornerstone of the American economy.”

The primary focus areas of the partnership include: 

  • Anticompetitive market structures and practices, as well as price gouging and other anti-consumer practices, in food, retail, meat and poultry processing, and other agriculture industries
  • Lack of choices for consumers and producers
  • Conflicts of interest, misuse of intellectual property, and anti-competitive barriers across the food and agriculture supply chains, such as in seed markets

Check out which states are partnered with USDA here