Anti-Competitive Practices Highlighted 2009 OCM Conference


OCM_Post_Conference_ReleaseOCM’s annual conference focused on anit-competitive practices in agriculture and livestock industries. The conference featured many different speakers, including administration officials, antitrust experts and economists.

The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) drew a record crowd of ranchers, farmers, feedlot operators, seed distributors and others for its annual conference held in St. Louis on August 7th. Attendees heard panel presentations concerning the ills of market concentration and anticompetitive practices and ongoing efforts to address these issues. Featured speakers included antitrust attorneys, food retail economists and two top Obama Administration officials tasked with enforcing antitrust and competition laws in the agriculture and livestock sectors.

Opening up the marketplace to fair competition is the driving principle of OCM’s mission.
“For decades, farmers and ranchers have paid too much for their inputs and received too little for their production due to concentration and lack of competition in the marketplace,” said Fred Stokes, OCM Executive Director.

Most encouraging was an announcement made earlier in the week by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that a series of public workshops will begin in January 2010. These are designed to address the dynamics of competition in agriculture markets including, among other issues, buyer power and vertical integration. OCM has pledged to be supportive of these critically important sessions in every way possible.

Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division for the U.S. Department of Justice Philip J. Weiser said “For many farmers and consumer advocates, we understand that there are concerns regarding the levels of concentration in the seed industry–particularly for corn and soybeans. In studying this market, we will evaluate the emerging industry structure, explore whether new entrants are able to introduce innovations, and examine any practices that potentially threaten competition.” The Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division was quoted as saying, “[The workshops are] an important step forward in determining the best course of action to address the unique competition issues in agriculture.”
OCM attendees were encouraged that the Department of Justice recognized the market challenges and concentration issues facing farmers, ranchers, distributors and operators around the country and are looking forward to seeing what remedies could unfold as a result of the joint public workshops. For further information on the workshops, click here.

“It appears that we now have a historic opportunity to do something about farmers and ranchers being taken advantage of by the big business interests who abuse their market power. Our nation’s food security requires a healthy and productive domestic agriculture that hinges on a fair and competitive marketplace,” Randy Stevenson, OCM President

Download OCM’s Post-Conference Release

The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is a nonprofit corporation working to restore open, fair and competitive markets for farmers and ranchers.