Justice Department/USDA going after agriculture monopolies
Several news sources -- among them the Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and NPR -- are reporting on the Obama Justice Department's departure from Bush Administration policies related to agricultural monopolies. What the heck does this mean? NPR's John Burnett puts the story into some context:
Frustrated farmers claim the operative philosophy of President Bush's antitrust division was, "Let's make a deal."
After some tweaking, the [Bush Administration] approved mergers between Dean Co. and Suiza Corp. to create the nation's largest milk processor; between Smithfield Foods and Premium Standard Farms to create the largest hog processor; and between JBS and Smithfield Beef to make one of the nation's largest cattle feeders.
The Obama Administration seems poised to turn back the clock. For starters, the administration has composed a new antitrust division to investigate Big Agriculture, and starting next year, NPR reports, the departments of justice and agriculture will be hitting the road to find out how monopolization is affecting farms from farmers themselves.
NPR says the new division will start off by focusing on three main areas where concentration of power has been heaviest: seeds, beef, and dairy.