USDA, Justice Launch Website To Report Anticompetitive Behavior in Agriculture
The new portal will allow farmers and ranchers to report unfair behavior from other producers in the industry.
The Departments of Justice and Agriculture launched a new portal for civilian agricultural workers to report instances of anticompetitive practices within the industry. The website, farmerfairness.gov, is part of the larger mission of the Biden-Harris administration to promote fair pricing and competition.
“This new online tool will help USDA and the Justice Department address anticompetitive actions and create livestock and poultry markets that are fairer to our nation’s producers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “I encourage producers who are aware of potential violations of competition laws to submit information to the portal so we can take appropriate action to create more competitive markets in the agricultural sector.”
Launched Feb. 3, the portal features resources like a confidential form and contact information to report complaints of anticompetitive or unfair behavior.
Following a review by Justice’s Antitrust Division staff and Agriculture’s Packers and Stockyards Division staff, if an individual complaint is found to raise serious concern, the agencies may opt to open a formal investigation.
The website’s launch came in part due to monopolies forming within sectors like the meatpacking industry, making it difficult for independent livestock producers to stay in business.
“When we talk about protecting competition in the agricultural sector, we are talking about whether a farmer or a rancher will be paid a fair and competitive price for their goods and labor. When we talk about protecting consumers in this context, we are talking about whether food will be affordable for everyone in America,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said last Thursday. “Today’s launch of farmerfairness.gov—a one-stop shop to report potential violations of our competitions laws—will allow the Justice Department and USDA to collaborate early and ensure economic opportunity and fairness for all.”
Establishing new online resources fits into the broader Biden administration initiative to make government services more accessible to Americans with advanced, user-friendly technology. In December 2021, President Biden signed an executive order emphasizing online customer service as a priority for federal agencies.
“We have to prove democracy still works, that our government still works and can deliver for our people,” Biden was quoted in the executive order summary.