Merger and Antitrust Issues in Agriculture: Statutes and Agencies, Date: January 29, 2003 1 (January 29, 2003)

handle is hein.tera/crser0055 and id is 1 raw text is: Order Code RS20562
Updated January 29, 2003
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Merger and Antitrust Issues in Agriculture:
Statutes and Agencies
Jerry Heykoop
Policy Analyst
Resources, Science, and Industry Division
Summary
A continuing trend toward consolidation within agriculture has generated
legislative interest in the effect of concentration and consolidation on U.S. agriculture.
The changing structure of the agriculture sector, particularly with respect to mergers
between major grain companies and concentration in the livestock sector, has brought
up questions about the federal government's role in pursuing cases of unfair competition
or violations of antitrust laws. Although various regulations target business practices
in the agriculture industry, important social issues associated with concentration and
consolidation may not be fully addressed by existing antitrust laws. This report briefly
sets out the philosophy underlying antitrust enforcement, the federal statutes and
agencies currently involved in antitrust regulation affecting agriculture, and
Congressional activity on the matter. This report will be updated as events warrant.
Antitrust Issues in Agriculture2
Many issues associated with concentration and consolidation, such as job loss,
change in ownership structure, and other quality-of-life issues, are not addressed by
antitrust laws, but it is these quality-of-life issues that often are the driving force behind
calls for stronger regulations and law enforcement in agriculture. Within agriculture,
issues involve the loss of rural lifestyles, the disruption of farming families, and the
continuing trend of fewer and larger farms coupled with the loss of smaller farms.
Nevertheless, antitrust enforcement does not encompass the broader range of possible
economic and social effects that may be associated with mergers. Such effects result not
only from mergers, but from many other forces as well, including technological change,
1 Minor revisions by Jean Yavis Jones, January 29, 2003.
2For a further discussion on legal issues dealing with antitrust, please see CRS Reports 95-116A:
General Overview of United States Antitrust Law, and RS2024 1: Monopoly and Monopolization
Fundamental But Separate Concepts in U.S. Antitrust Law.
Congressional Research Service ** The Library of Congress

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