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DOJ’s Kanter Visits Minnesota to Witness Agricultural Consolidation Impact

 |  October 25, 2023

In a concerted effort to address concerns related to corporate consolidation and antitrust issues, the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division continues its comprehensive approach to enforcing antitrust regulations. This week, the division turned its attention to Minnesota, where it engaged directly with individuals affected by corporate mergers and acquisitions.

Jonathan Kanter, the Assistant Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, played a pivotal role in this outreach effort. On October 23, Kanter participated in an antitrust symposium organized by the Minnesota Farmers Union, Mitchell Hamline Antitrust Society, and the MSBA Antitrust Law Section at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law.

During the symposium, Kanter highlighted the growing interest in antitrust matters among law schools and students nationwide. “We are seeing more law schools and students across the country who are interested in these issues, who cared deeply about these issues,” Kanter noted.

The following day, Kanter engaged in a series of discussions with Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his staff. Their conversations centered on the potential for collaboration between the state and federal levels regarding antitrust enforcement. Kanter also met with state legislators to explore the innovative agenda pursued by the Minnesota State Legislature in the realm of competition and antitrust enforcement.

Related: DOJ’s Kanter Calls For An Update On Bank Merger Guidelines

“The Minnesota State Legislature has been really at the forefront and innovative in its agenda with respect to competition and antitrust enforcement,” Kanter remarked.

To better understand the real-life implications of corporate consolidation, Kanter visited Cherry Valley Farm in Cannon Falls, owned by Danny and Mary Lundell, who specialize in corn and soybean cultivation.

The Lundell family’s experience serves as a microcosm of the broader issue. They previously sourced fertilizer from a local business called Kenyan Ag. However, this small-town company became part of the larger entity known as Ag Partners, impacting the Lundells’ operations.

Mary Lundell highlighted the changes they’ve observed in their business environment. “Where we would buy our gas and our diesel for the farm was from Cenex in Cannon Falls, and then that closed, and so it was Cenex out of Wanamingo, and now that’s gone, and it’s Ag Partners, again.”

When the time comes to sell their products, the closest market available to the Lundell family is also affiliated with Ag Partners. This shift represents a common trend as smaller cooperative businesses have merged into more prominent corporations.

“All these small little co-ops are gone, and it’s now one big company,” Lundell lamented. “You really notice that when you start thinking about it.”

The Antitrust Division’s efforts in Minnesota demonstrate a commitment to understanding the local impact of corporate consolidation and fostering collaboration between federal and state agencies to ensure fair competition in various industries.

Source: AG Week