Earlier this year, the Obama adiministration's top antitrust enforcer, Christine Varney, announced a new effort to crack down on monopolist practices in industry. Some of us were particularly interested to observe that Varney's first speech specifically mentioned agribusiness as a top target. This is understandable since, from fertilizer to meatpacking to seeds, four companies or fewer control up to 80% of each of these markets.
But right now nowhere are the oligolopolists doing more damage than in the dairy industry, where prices have fallen faster and deeper than any time since the Great Depression. And, joining ranks with tens of thousands of desperately struggling dairy farmers, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has had enough -- he has called on the Justice Department to investigate the dairy giant Dean Foods as a monopolist.
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