Can Antitrust Law Save the American Farmer? Holder Pledges Scrutiny
Posted Mar 15, 2010 4:30 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Attorney General Eric Holder told Iowa farmers at a public forum Friday that he is working with federal agricultural officials to scrutinize anti-competitive practices that affect farmers.
About 500 people attended the meeting, including farmers and public relations executives for Monsanto, said to be under investigation already for its practices in the market for bioengineered seeds, the New York Times reports.
Last year seed prices increased 32 percent for corn and 24 percent for soybeans, the New York Times reported in a prior story. Critics claim Monsanto uses licensing agreements with smaller companies to block cheaper generic versions of its seeds.
Monsanto maintains its price increases are warranted because the company is adding new biotech traits to its seeds.
Holder acknowledged that farmers are feeling the pinch. “We know that a growing number of American farmers find it increasingly difficult to survive by doing what they have been doing for decades,” Holder said, according to an account in the Quad City Times.
The attorney general appeared at the forum with his antitrust chief, Christine Varney, and U.S. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack, Iowa’s former governor. “You will see an historic era of enforcement that will almost inevitably grow from the partnership that we have established,” Holder told reporters afterward.
The Des Moines Register also covered the event.