National Farmers Union (NFU) has encouraged the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to follow through on its recent pledge to provide “vigorous antitrust enforcement” in the agricultural sector.

DOJ released its findings on competition and agriculture stemming from the joint workshops held by DOJ and the USDA in 2010. The report included the statement that “the sessions confirmed that a healthy agricultural sector requires competition and, consequently, vigorous antitrust enforcement.”

“We are pleased that DOJ has taken some further action as a result of the DOJ-USDA workshops in 2010,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “Competition and fair markets have been long-term priorities for NFU and the proceedings in 2010 offered hope that this administration would reverse the decades of under-enforcement of antitrust laws. Economic studies have shown that the top four beef and pork packers dominate their sectors, so it's clear that oversight is needed to make our markets competitive."

The long-awaited document summarizes the discussion that took place at the five workshops, which were held around the country and focused on various sectors of the agricultural economy. The report also highlights some of the enforcement actions that have taken place in recent years to address the continued consolidation of agriculture.

The report included statements about DOJ’s new priorities: “as a result of the workshops, the (Antitrust Division of DOJ) has redoubled its efforts to prevent anticompetitive agricultural mergers and conduct. The workshops have enhanced the Division’s efforts to enforce the antitrust laws.”

The report further noted several instances in the last five years of DOJ action on acquisitions in the agriculture sector. Most of these, however, occurred before the 2010 series of workshops.

“Much more work remains to be done to ensure that family farmers and ranchers have an opportunity to succeed in the marketplace,” Johnson said. “I look forward to the Antitrust Division of DOJ following through on the statements in the report.”