June 25, 2010 - Madison, Wisconsin
Specific areas of focus will include trends in the dairy industry, market consolidation and market transparency.
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Union Theater in Memorial Union
800 Langdon Street, Madison, WI 53706
Updated: August 12, 2010
The Honorable Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust, U.S. Department of Justice
Keynote Roundtable Discussion
The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Farmer Presentation of Issues
This panel will be an opportunity to hear first-hand from dairy farmers as they share their experiences and perspectives on the industry.
Panel I - Trends in the Dairy Industry
Over the past several decades, the number of dairy farms in the United States has steadily decreased, while the average size of dairy farms has increased. Most milk in the United States is produced under federal and state marketing orders and sold through cooperatives rather than directly by independent dairy farmers. At all levels of the industry, changes have occurred that have a significant impact on farmers, processors, retailers, and consumers. This panel will examine these changes, the responses of industry stakeholders, and the potential implications for regulation and enforcement.
Panel II - Market Consolidation
Firms that produce, process and sell milk and milk products have grown dramatically in certain geographic regions throughout the United States. While the growth of cooperatives and processors has almost certainly lowered production costs, in some regions there are concerns that there may be so few cooperatives and processors that the remaining firms can exercise market power against their customers. Processors may have also achieved sufficient size in some regions to exercise monopsony power against cooperatives and farmers. This panel will explore how such changes in firm size are affecting both farmers and consumers.
Panel III - Market Transparency
Farm prices for milk have been subject to wide swings in recent years. Although likely the result of a multiplicity of factors, both domestic and foreign, some have raised concerns about the possibility of manipulation of fluid milk prices as a result of thinly-traded spot and futures markets for bulk cheese, butter, and powdered milk. Others suggest that information disparities that result from long-term, full-supply contracts create perverse incentives that disadvantage farmers and prevent them from making optimal marketing decisions. This panel will examine these phenomena from the point of view of public policy options.