Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at the Roundtable on Promoting Competition and Reducing Prices in the Meatpacking Industry | OPA

Thank you very much, Mr. President, for convening this very important meeting.

And thank you Mr. Secretary for the tremendous engagement our teams have had over the past year on our shared competition and regulatory concerns. 

The Justice Department takes very seriously our responsibility to share with our partners across the federal government to protect consumers, safeguard competition and ensure economic opportunity and fairness for all.

Over the past 10 months, we have stepped up our efforts to ensure competition and counter anticompetitive practices across all sectors – from airlines to insurance brokers to book publishers.

And we will continue to vigorously enforce our antitrust laws, no matter the industry, no matter the company and no matter the individual.

The work that we do – especially the work that we do together – to ensure competition in our economy has a direct impact on the lives of the American people every single day.

When we talk about promoting 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.

The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division has been active in implementing the sound policy measures suggested in the President’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.

We have closely supported USDA’s rulemaking efforts under the Packers and Stockyards Act – a law that Congress passed a hundred years ago, more than a hundred years ago, to deal with many of the very same problems we still have today.

Today, we are announcing a new joint initiative to better coordinate efforts between USDA and DOJ.

This will include the launch of a centralized, accessible portal – a one-stop shop – to report complaints of potential violations of our competition laws, including the Sherman and the Clayton Acts as well as the Packers and Stockyards Act.

The joint channel that we are establishing will allow USDA and DOJ to collaborate early on how to appropriately address such complaints.

Where complaints relate to antitrust violations, whistleblowers will be protected in many cases by the new employee and contractor anti-retaliation protections, which Congress passed in 2020.

Let me say in closing that anticompetitive practices in agriculture, as in any industry, hurt the American people – producers, consumers and workers alike. And they hurt the American economy.

Too many industries have become too consolidated over time.

Too many companies have pursued corporate conduct and more aggressive mergers that have made all of us vulnerable.

Against this background, our antitrust efforts cannot and will not slow down.

But it is a fact that our Antitrust Division has been underfunded for too long, and has fewer staff today than it had in the 1970s.

That is why we are urging Congress to allocate the resources we need to reinvigorate our enforcement efforts and ensure a competitive economy for all Americans.

I look forward to our work together in the days ahead. Thank you very much.

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