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“U.S. Department of Justice officials brought their antitrust sword Friday to a workshop on competition in agriculture, but for the time being are keeping the weapon in its scabbard,” wrote the dependable Dan Piller in the Des Moines Register. Piller reported from the first of several “workshops” being held by the federal Department of Justice on the agriculture business sector. There is increasing concentration of business in many parts of agriculture, some of which may violate federal antitrust laws. “Big is not necessarily bad,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “We’re here to listen and learn. We want to be business-friendly.”
Piller reported that about 800 people attended the hearing. At the center of the discussion was Monsanto, the company that controls the corn and soy bean seed market. Piller gives a good rundown of what happened and who said what. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “The number of farmers has decreased, and rural America is seeing a rise in poverty. Rural America has been in recession much longer than the rest of the country.”
Lynda Waddington of the Iowa Independent concentrated her story on Vilsack’s remarks. She followed a discussion about crop subsidies and renewable fuels. Find her story here. Waddington also reported from a meeting the day before, held to protest “big ag.” (Photo above.) The Wall Street Journal story is here. The North Platte Bulletin lists more antitrust workshops in Alabama, Wisconsin, Colorado and Washington, DC.