The U.S. Justice Department has announced that they will be investigating anticompetitive practices in agriculture, specifically the seed industry, which Monsanto dominates:
Rapid Rise in Seed Prices Draws U.S. Scrutiny
During the depths of the economic crisis last year, the prices for many goods held steady or even dropped. But on American farms, the picture was far different, as farmers watched the price they paid for seeds skyrocket. Corn seed prices rose 32 percent; soybean seeds were up 24 percent.
Such price increases for seeds — the most important purchase a farmer makes each year — are part of an unprecedented climb that began more than a decade ago, stemming from the advent of genetically engineered crops and the rapid concentration in the seed industry that accompanied it.
The price increases have not only irritated many farmers, they have caught the attention of the Obama administration. The Justice Department began an antitrust investigation of the seed industry last year, with an apparent focus on Monsanto, which controls much of the market for the expensive bioengineered traits that make crops resistant to insect pests and herbicides.
The investigation is just one facet of a push by the Obama administration to take a closer look at competition — or the lack thereof — in agriculture, from the dairy industry to livestock to commodity crops, like corn and soybeans.
Justice Dept. Tells Farmers It Will Press Agriculture on Antitrust
ANKENY, Iowa — The attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., traveled to the heart of Midwestern farm country on Friday to declare that the Obama administration was serious about rooting out anticompetitive practices in agriculture.
“Is today’s agricultural industry suffering from a lack of free and fair competition in the marketplace? That’s the central question,” Mr. Holder said.
He spoke at an unusual public meeting called to discuss the concerns of some farmers and ranchers that a few large companies had come to dominate many agricultural markets, controlling the seed that farmers plant and the milk they sell and the livestock ranchers raise.
Mr. Holder and the agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, who co-hosted the event, said their agencies would work together on antitrust enforcement.