The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) yesterday announced the schedule and panelists for the second joint public workshop on competition and regulatory issues in agriculture, which will be held on May 21, 2010, in Normal, Alabama.

poultry-farm1-featured.jpgThe workshop, the second in what will be a five part series, will focus on consolidation and contracting practices in the poultry industry, and is expected to be well-attended. Over 700 farmers and agribusiness experts participated in the first joint public workshop on consolidation in agriculture, which was held in Ankeny, Iowa in March.

The series of workshops, first announced by Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in August, are the first DOJ, USDA joint workshops ever to be held to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry.

“The goals of the workshops are to promote dialogue among interested parties and foster learning with respect to the appropriate legal and economic analyses of these issues, as well as to listen to and learn from parties with experience in the agriculture sector,” according to a joint release from the agencies.

Attorney General Eric Holder, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division Christine Varney will all participate in the Alabama workshop, as will Congressman Artur Davis, Alabama Attorney General Troy King, and Alabama Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks.

Each of the key presenters will participate in a roundtable discussion, followed by a panel of current and former poultry growers. There are also two sessions planned to allow for public testimony.

Poultry growers are expected to address: competition in the poultry industry, poultry contracting, contract terminations and upgrades to poultry houses, and inputs that affect grower compensation, such as bird quality, feed quality and consistency.

For a complete schedule of the DOJ, USDA antitrust workshop for poultry, see the workshop series website. The event is free and open to the public, anyone interested in attending, including media, should register.

The Antitrust Division’s agriculture workshop website will provide transcripts and other information, but no livestream will be available.