Marking the second anniversary of his executive order on competition, today President Biden is announcing new federal actions that fulfill key promises to bring more competition to the food and agriculture system. In response, Farm Action released the following statement:
“On behalf of everyone in the trenches of this forty-year fight to rein in corporate power, I’m thrilled to see the administration make such sweeping changes and keep their promises to the American people,” said Joe Maxwell, a Missouri farmer and co-founder of Farm Action.
“We’ve been working for years to get an administration to undo the wrong-headed consumer-welfare framework that facilitated unprecedented concentrations of corporate power in our economy,” Maxwell continued. “By focusing on substantial harm, the proposed merger guidelines will let the FTC and DOJ actually prevent concentration and not just grapple with the consequences.”
Maxwell concluded, “USDA’s partnership with state Attorneys General and the historic Farmer Seed Liaison will both go a long way in restoring the people’s place of power in the U.S. food system.”
Honoring the executive order’s “whole-of-government” approach, two of these actions activated the three agencies responsible for improving food system competition:
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) released proposed merger guidelines for public comment that apply the antitrust laws as written by Congress and reflect Supreme Court precedent. By enforcing the law, the proposed merger guidelines would protect competition for agricultural producers.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched key measures to lower food prices and promote competition in agriculture, including the historic partnership with more than 30 bipartisan State Attorneys General, which will bring their combined power to bear against anticompetitive behaviors that are harming farmers and consumers alike. The USDA has also appointed a Farmer Seed Liaison team, fulfilling a critical directive from the executive order in the highly consolidated seed and agrochemical industry. The team has launched a new web tool to streamline access to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s resources, which will empower farmers navigating the patent system.
Today’s announcement comes after years of work by Farm Action to prioritize competition reform in agriculture markets at the federal level. Recent actions by Farm Action include:
- On July 17, Farm Action and Open Markets Institute released their second annual report card grading the progress made by the USDA, FTC, and DOJ toward goals set forth in the executive order on competition.
- In April 2022, Farm Action submitted comments to the FTC and DOJ regarding the draft merger guidelines, which set out the legal and factual case for ending a 40-year failed experiment in antitrust law enforcement.
- Following the release of Farm Action’s transition plan for the Biden-Harris administration, administration officials thanked Farm Action leadership for “writing the playbook” to improve competition. Key components of this plan were incorporated into the Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.
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