June 28, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Fred Stokes
Lincoln, NE: In a decision that will rock global agriculture supply markets for years, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago ruled June 27th that a civil suit alleging price fixing in American potash markets by a handful of global fertilizer suppliers can proceed and be heard in the Seventh Circuit.
“This a huge step forward for American farmers and competitive markets,” noted Mike Callicrate, vice president of the Organization for Competitive Markets. “Without question, we have a federal court—and not just any court, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, a clear leader in antitrust cases in the American legal system,” he explained, “confirming what we and others have said for years: antitrust enforcement in our farm and ranch markets has been lacking. This decision is great news for all farmers and ranchers affected by abusive monopoly power.”
In the plainly-worded 32-page decision issued by the court (opinion), the nine-judge appeals panel made it clear the court wants to know if seven global suppliers of potash, called “the cartel”, “initiated and sustained a successful effort to drive [potash] prices up beginning mid-2003; by 2008 potash prices had increased at least 600%.”
The court’s language is unmistakable in its order to send the civil case to trial: “Foreigners who want to earn money from the sale of goods or services in American markets should expect to have to comply with U.S. law.”
It is appalling that matters such as this have to be addressed by civil action. OCM has long recognized the devastating effect of price fixing by fertilizer cartels on U. S. agriculture. In face to face meetings, we brought this situation to the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice in October of 2010 and then to the Federal Trade Commission in April of 2011. We urged their prompt and vigorous action, but to no avail.
We offer our hearty congratulations to the plaintiff’s legal team on this hard-fought and most significant victory.
The Organization for Competitive Markets is a national, non-profit public policy research organization headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska, working for truly competitive markets that sustain independent family agriculture and our national food security.