UPDATE: Trying to find the right hash tag for the event, I’ve changed the title of this post and we’ll follow the convention for our live blogging today–posts from the Workshop will all have “#agworkshop” in the title.
Later this week Mike Sykuta and I will be winging our way to Iowa on behalf of the ICLE to attend the first of the year-long series of DOJ/USDA Workshops on Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues. You can find the agenda for the first workshop, to be held Friday, March 12 in Ankeny, Iowa, here. Intrepid reporters, we, our plan is to “live blog” the event for those of you unable to attend. This first workshop, in addition to introducing the series, will focus on farming, which means seeds, which means the dispute between DuPont and Monsanto over licensing terms and everyone’s perennial favorite: industry concentration.
The agenda clearly reflects the highly-politicized nature of the issues under discussion, and, for example, a few news reports have suggested that the agenda has changed in response to pressure from Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. Regardless, we expect a lively and interesting discussion.
For ease of reference all of our blogs from the workshop will be categorized under “ag/antitrust workshop,” and each post will have “DOJ/USDA Workshop” in the title.
TOTM is no stranger to the issues, and Mike and I have blogged a few times about the antitrust/licensing issues involved. See:
Competition in Agriculture Redux (Manne, Kieff and Wright)
Competition in Agriculture (Sykuta)
Monsanto’s Licensing Case Victory (Manne)
Yet More Evidence Against the DOJ’s Antitrust Plantings (Sykuta)
The Seeds of an Antitrust Disaster (Manne)
DOJ Disconnect: Do We Really Need a Roadshow? (Sykuta)
Together with Scott Kieff and Joshua Wright, we also submitted a comment to the DOJ on the topic, “Comment on Intellectual Property, Concentration and the Limits of Antitrust in the Biotech Seed Industry,” available here (SSRN) or here (if you prefer to get it directly from the DOJ website).
The news has also been covering the seed industry antitrust issues, the DOJ/USDA workshops and agricultural antitrust issues more generally, and you can find a host of relevant news articles here.
We’re looking forward to the workshops and to your comments on the day’s events.
Tom Harkin’s pressure did influence the workshop agenda, but who pressured Tom Harkin? Answer: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and a coalition of family farm, consumer, and labor organizations who are holding their own townhall meeting in Ankeny, IA at 7pm on March 11 at the Best Western Hotel – the night before the DOJ/USDA anti-trust workshop. Titled “Unleash Food Democracy: Taking on Corporate Power in Our Food System”, the townhall meeting is meant to ensure that the voices of farmers, labor, and consumers is heard loud and clear. The message is simple: bust up big ag and put people first. More than 200 people have RSVP’d. We invite you to join us Thursday night.