Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 21, 2010
Department of Justice and USDA Hold Competition Workshop Focused on Competition Issues in the Poultry Industry

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

"Secretary Vilasck and I are committed to improving our understanding of how particular agricultural markets function," said Attorney General Holder. "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."

"All players in the poultry industry deserve an honest chance at success, and that requires a fair, viable and competitive marketplace," said Vilsack. "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."

Today’s meeting 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. Additional information about the workshops can be found at www.justice.gov/atr/public/workshops/ag2010/index.htm#overview.

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, Ala., 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.

Transcripts from today’s workshop will be available for review at a later date on the Antitrust Division’s website. Individuals seeking more information on the workshops should contact agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov.

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