Liberal group proposes antitrust agency at USDA

 

By Ryan McCrimmon, POLITICO

05/08/2019

 

With help from Liz Crampton, Helena Bottemiller Evich and Oma Seddiq

 

The Center for American Progress on Tuesday floated a novel idea to counter the effects of a rapidly consolidating agriculture industry: Establish an independent task force at USDA charged with maintaining competitive markets and protecting farmers from the harms of consolidation. CAP also backed other proposals including upping antitrust enforcement and restructuring farmer contracts with employers.

 

The group plans to sell the idea on Capitol Hill, and it could find a receptive audience among Democrats who are already pushing antitrust-related legislation, like a bill from Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Mark Pocan that would temporarily ban future ag mergers while Congress rewrites antitrust laws to strengthen enforcement against anti-competitive deals.

 

The proposed “Independent Farmer Protection Bureau” would be modeled after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and led by a Senate-confirmed appointee with a five-year term. The IFPB would have offices across the country that collect data and monitor markets. The agency would also set up a hotline for farmers to issue complaints about anti-competitive practices and would have the authority to enforce antitrust laws and oversee the input side of markets. Our Liz Crampton has more on CAP’s idea here.

 

GOP IMMIGRATION MEETING SKIRTS H-2A TALK: White House adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday briefed Senate Republicans on an immigration plan that would focus on attracting high-skilled workers to the U.S., POLITICO’s Andrew Restuccia and Burgess Everett report. Based on reports coming out of the meeting, the discussions appeared to largely skip over how the administration would address the ag labor shortage and tweaks to the H-2A foreign guestworker program.

 

Ag industry and labor groups plan to continue meeting this week to hash out what they want to include in comprehensive ag labor legislation, sources told MA. The high-stakes meetings are being held because House Judiciary staff need to nail down the topline priorities for each side before drafting a bill. Several lobbyists predicted that legislation could be made public as soon as the end of May.

 

WIC PARTICIPATION CONTINUES TO DECLINE ...

 

The recent decline ...

 

The systemic barriers ...

 

The immigration factor ...

 

USDA taking a look ...

 

more, including links, charts

https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-agriculture/2019/05/08/liberal-group-proposes-antitrust-agency-at-usda-614833