David Domina and Dr. C. Robert Taylor filed a strongly worded response to the American Meat Institute's year end comments on the US Department of Justice plan to study antitrust and concentration issues in US agricultural markets. The filing was made February 11th. Domina and Taylor wrote for the Organization for Competitive Markets, a nonprofit national group committed to restoring competition in ag markets.
The 40-page submission takes to task a year end AMI letter to the Department of Justice and the USDA. AMI claimed all is well and no need exists to examine the structure or function of markets for agricultural products in the United States.
Taylor, and Auburn University Ag Ecomist and Domina, a Nebraska lawyer with significant history in ag markets issues described AMI’s submission as “startlingly simplistic and dismissive of the serious subjects under study by” the Department of Justice.
The OCM paper, filed with the Department of Justice in anticipation of upcoming workshops on ag markets, notes the importance of antitrust enforcement – a topic dismissed by AMI. Domina and Taylor observed:
“The Sherman Act, Clayton Act, Robinson-Patman Act, and FTC Act do not exempt the meat industry from their antitrust ambit. These laws may work well in litigation between giant corporate citizens like Apple versus Microsoft, but they provide no genuine remedial assistance to the small producer who is discriminated against because a packer refuses to engage in business with him or her by purchasing fed animals, or accepting them timely, or paying the same price as is paid favored producers of animals of comparable quality”
Debunking AMI’s position that market concentration is not an issue, OCM’s Senior Economics Fellow and Senior Legal Fellow wrote “AMI sides with Academicians who seek statistical certainty before reaching conclusions. It does so while its own members gobble up other companies, expand operations, concentrate more and more market power, and wield that power to break producers. While Academicians engage in important polemics, the market moves – daily.”
The Domina, Taylor paper spells out food supply security and food safety issues inherent in the current system of concentrated agriculture. The entire paper may be read here.
A 32 page addendum to the paper painstakingly takes up every reference paper cited by the AMI submission. Taylor and Domina detail the true fact that nearly every source relied on by AMI as supportive of its position is actually diametrically opposed to the AMI thesis that the markets for beef, swine, poultry, are working. Instead the papers AMI misused provide support for OCM’s position that government antitrust enforcement and market intervention is essential to America’s food producers.
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