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Domina Law's Michael Stumo Addresses American Antitrust Institute on Buyer Power


Domina Law Groupattorney Michael Stumo was a guest speaker during the American Antitrust Institute’s(AAI) annual conference on June 22 at the National Press Club in Washington,DC. Entitled “Buyer Power and Antitrust,” the event showed that monopsony,or the Power Buyer problem, is gaining strength as a major issue in antitrust.

AAI is considered by many as the most authoritative antitrust think tank in the nation. In attendance were attorneys, scholars and antitrust regulators at the state, federal and international level. Also, in an odd juxtaposition, S. Robson Walton, the chairman of Wal-Mart, the biggest Power Buyer in the world, presented to the group. At issue was the power of dominant firms that have the incentive and the ability to cause economic harm to suppliers in all sectors of the economy including health care,retail food, agriculture, and professional sports.

Michael Stumo presented on buyer power in agriculture.

"We usually think of monopolies in antitrust law. A monopolist is a powerful seller that raises prices wrongfully to harm consumers. But farmers and ranchers generally deal with the mirror image ‘monopsony’ power," Stumo told attendees. "Agriculture’s monopsonists are power buyers that may use their market or bargaining power to lower prices or extract other concessions from suppliers such as agricultural producers. Contrary to the views of the naïve-wing of the Chicago School, buyer power does not correlate with consumer benefit.”

Stumo discussed the fact that the food and agricultural sectors of the U.S. economy tend to produce more price-manipulation problems than any other sector. He also pointed to the need for a regulatory system that facilitates agricultural markets that are fair, accessible and competitive as opposed to the current unfair, closed and anticompetitive markets that producers are forced to market within today. "Agricultural markets should be viewed as akin to the stock markets," commented Stumo. “Without market facilitating rules, they break down into chaos, lack of confidence, and market access problems.”

As recently as 1997 when the Organization for Competitive Markets, a client of Domina Law Group, was formed the monopsony issue was foundering the backwater of antitrust thought and practice. OCM and the American Antitrust Institute have striven to bring attention to the fact that PowerBuyers can harm people and the economy just as much as Power Sellers."

Stumo is recognized nationally as a leading authority on agricultural antitrust and competition issues. He is an attorney with Domina Law Group, in Omaha, NE, which focuses its practice in the area of complex litigation. He has testifed before the US Congress several times, and is the author of a number of widely distributed publications on antitrust and related legal topics.

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