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The Justice Department announced in August that it planned to investigate various parts of the agriculture industry to determine if there were violations of antitrust laws. The DOJ made the pledge at the annual meeting of the Organization for Competitive Markets. (Story here, picture above.)  The federal officials said the investigation would begin with a series of workshops where the government could collect stories and evidence.

The DOJ has announced the dates, places and subject matter for these hearings, and the sessions will last all of 2010. The first workshop will be held in Ankeny, Iowa, on March 12 and will cover “issues of concern to farmers.” The next workshop will be in Normal, Alabama, on May 21 and will deal with the poultry industry (grower contracts and “concentration and buyer power”). The next workshop will cover the dairy industry and will be held June 7 in Madison, Wisconsin. The livestock industry (beef and hog) will be covered in a workshop in Fort Collins, Colorado, on August 26. 

The last workshop will be December 8 in Washington, D.C. “This workshop will look at the discrepancies between the prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers,” according to the Justice Department. The Justice Department is also asking for comments prior to the workshops. To get details on the meetings and on how to comment, go here

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