Two key U.S. Senators this week asked Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack what they plan to do about competitiveness in agriculture. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) along with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) note that the two agencies held several joint workshops over the past year exploring competitiveness issues in U.S. agriculture. Grassley serves as Ranking Member and Leahy as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and both also serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“The agriculture industry has consolidated to the point where family farmers, independent producers and other smaller market participants do not have equal access to fair and competitive markets.  Increased concentration in agriculture will lead to fewer product choices and higher product prices for the American consumer,” Grassley says.  “The workshops offered a chance for people involved in the ag industry to voice their concerns and provide comment.  It was a strong signal that the two agencies were communicating about this important issue.  Now, it’s time to take another step forward.  I look forward to hearing what the Justice Department and Agriculture Department have in mind.

“With the conclusion of the last workshop on December 8, 2010, we would appreciate an update as to what the DOJ and USDA plans for its next steps,” the Senators wrote.  “As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Judiciary, please provide to us an outline of any plans or further action items that DOJ and USDA intend to take in this area.”

Read more, including a copy of the letter the Senators sent to Holder and Vilsack.