The American Soybean Association (ASA) submitted initial comments on Dec. 30, to the Department of Justice (DOJ) as DOJ and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) explore competition issues in the agriculture industry.

ASA believes USDA should be more active in reviewing and providing recommendations to DOJ on agribusiness mergers and acquisitions.

"In recent years, we have seen increased consolidation in various agricultural industries," said ASA President Rob Joslin. "Many farmers have questioned why high levels of concentration have not been more thoroughly reviewed and analyzed by the federal government to determine their impact on competition."

In a letter to DOJ, ASA identified four principles that should guide agricultural competition: Competition within and among domestic industries must be safeguarded; support innovation, including protecting patent rights; following patent expiration, growers should see a reduction in prices through generic competition; and foreign competitors should be subject to the same requirements and costs for accessing intellectual property as apply in the U.S.

In response to DOJ’s request for comment, ASA distributed a survey to its producer-members asking for additional input. DOJ and USDA will be holding a series of public hearings on competition issues, with the first hearing scheduled for March 12, in Des Moines, with a focus on the seed industry, when ASA will provide more detailed comments.