Michael Sykuta headshot

Associate Professor, Division of Applied Sciences
University of Missouri

Michael Sykuta is an economist and Associate Professor in the Division of Applied Social Sciences at the University of Missouri. He is Executive Director of the Financial Research Institute (FRI), whose programs focus on public utilities regulation and utility industry issues. He is also Co-founder and Director of the Contracting and Organizations Research Institute (CORI), an interdisciplinary research program focused on the economics and law of contracting, organization, and corporate governance.

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Getting The Cart Before The Horse Exposes the Horse's Rear

Will someone remind me just why the USDA and DOJ are hosting their little Antitrust in Ag roadshow this year?

The Associated Press reports today that the USDA is set to release a new set of regulations on the livestock and poultry industries. Reporter Christopher Leonard describes the new regulations as “the most sweeping antitrust rules covering the meat industry in decades, potentially altering the balance of power between meat companies and the farmers who raise their animals.”

Set aside the merits of those regulations and the likely effect on the consumers’ abilities to access consistent, quality meat products at low cost (hint: a non-positive change at best). The bigger question at this point is: Why is the USDA issuing “sweeping changes” now when its Antitrust in Ag workshops focusing on poultry and cattle have yet to take place?

Seems there are two logical inferences to be drawn. Either the USDA is acting in ignorance, since they haven’t gathered the relevant information the workshops are intended to elicit, or the entire workshop series is nothing but political showmanship for Ag-pandering Senators and the Obama administration;  the kind of abuse of influence that completely undermines any perception that our regulatory and legal enforcement agencies are objectively working for the public good.

Of course, regular readers here have likely inferred the latter to be true all along. But the USDA’s move now to impose sweeping regulatory changes in advance of its purported “information gathering” workshops certainly seems to seal the deal.

Filed under: ag/antitrust workshop, antitrust, regulation, Sykuta