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Posted by grantcart in General Discussion: Presidential (Through Nov 2009)
Thu Aug 20th 2009, 06:39 PM
For 8 hours today stuck in the car and NPR had story after story about consolidation in Big Agriculture that is on the brink of wiping out small farmers. It seems that virtually every dairy farmer in America is facing a push out as a single producer now controls 30% of the market. The NPR article charged that Monsanto had up to 90% of the seed market in some areas.

The Obama administration has sent Deputy Assistant AG Weiser to St. Louis to speak with the Organization for Competetive Markets, (long time Monsanto foe) indicating that they have withdrawn the guidelines set out during Bush and will be conducting aggressive hearings in America's heartland over the next 12 months to investigate broad areas of anti-trust violations by Agrictultural giants.

Follow up interviews by NPR among these home owned farmers and dairy owners revealed that they recently have seen a ray of hope after 8 years of being ignored by the Whitehouse and Republican Congressman with the joint DOA/DOJ workshops. Many of the farmers interviewed expressed outright support by the new aggressive moves indicated by the adminisration:




Antitrust Enforcers Begin Visiting Farm Belt



http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1249666573...

ST. LOUIS -- The Obama administration will take an extensive look at concentration in U.S. agriculture as part of its increased emphasis on antitrust enforcement, a Justice Department official said Friday.

Philip J. Weiser, a telecommunications-law expert who was recently named deputy assistant attorney general, told a farmer gathering here that federal antitrust regulators are "committed to examining" the level of competition in several agribusiness sectors, such as the marketing of genetically modified seed, dairy processing and meatpacking.

Washington has often sympathized with farmers who find themselves selling their commodities to fewer and larger processors. But the Obama administration is taking a further step, with plans for a nationwide series of sessions next year for the U.S. Agriculture Department to hear competitive concerns of farmers.

Mr. Weiser's remarks are another sign the Obama administration intends to step up enforcement of antitrust laws. In May, the Justice Department's antitrust division withdrew anti-monopoly legal guidelines issued under the Bush administration and signaled closer scrutiny of some industries.

While Mr. Weiser didn't single out any agricultural companies for criticism, his 30-minute appearance came in the hometown of St. Louis crop-biotechnology titan Monsanto Co., where he addressed the annual convention of a farmers advocacy group called the Organization for Competitive Markets. Officials of the group have complained about Monsanto's dominance over genetically modified seeds.


Interestingly Bernie Sanders is running the same article on his website

http://sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/news/?i...

It included this response from Monsanto

Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles called DuPont's backing "extremely disappointing, because they are aligning themselves with an organization that is spreading false and misleading information about our business."







Small Farmers See Promise In Obama's Plans


By John Burnett
National Public Radio, Aug 20, 2009
Straight to the Source

Since the 1980s, American agriculture has become increasingly concentrated. Today, less than 2 percent of farms account for half of all agricultural sales. The new antitrust division of President Obama's Justice Department has said that scrutinizing monopolies in agriculture is a top priority.

That shift is giving hope to independent farmers, who have complained for years that agriculture giants are shrinking the marketplace and paying farmers less for their products.

Farmers Welcome A Change

Earlier this month, the Justice Department sent out a news release that received virtually no attention outside the agriculture-centered press.

Starting next year, the Justice and Agriculture departments will hold public workshops in farm towns throughout the United States to learn about anti-competitive conduct in agricultural markets.






Here is Deputy Assistant AG Weiser's speech at OCM

http://www.competitivemarkets.com/index.ph...


Here is what the anti-trust workshops will be looking at:


As I mentioned at the outset, the Antitrust Division is planning to look, in cooperation with the USDA, into the state of competition in agriculture markets. This undertaking, which will include a number of workshops, will touch on a set of important questions that will include, but not necessarily be limited to:


Evaluating the state and nature of competition in a range of agricultural markets; the impact of vertical integration
Concerns about "Buyer Power"
Relevant regulatory regimes; and
Questions about the nature of transparency in the marketplace





It would seem that the concern expressed by some that the Obama administration would go soft on Monsanto was misplaced.
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