Legal Corner

Capper-Volstead Q&A

By Stephanie M. Smith,
Senior Legal Advisor for
USDA Cooperative Programs

he Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are jointly hosting workshops for the public to discuss issues affecting competition in the agricultural marketplace. These issues include antitrust immunity laws and the Capper-Volstead Act.

These are the first joint DOJ/USDA workshops ever held to discuss competition and regulatory issues in the agriculture industry. The first two workshops were held in March (in Iowa) and May (in Alabama), with three more still slated (see sidebar).

Each workshop features keynote speakers, general expert panels and/or break-out panels that address more narrowly focused issues. The attendance and participation of the public are encouraged throughout the series of workshops. Opportunity is provided for comments and questions. The goals of these sessions are to generate further dialogue among interested parties and to improve understanding of the legal and economic aspects of antitrust issues. The workshops have generated interest in the Capper Volstead Act, the law that provides certain cooperatives limited antitrust immunity.

Following are some of the most commonly asked questions about Capper-Volstead: It is not hard to see why so many farmer cooperatives and their trade organizations are making their presence known at the competition workshops, where they are discussing the role of Capper-Volstead in the agricultural marketplace. It is an opportunity to educate the public about this law, and the importance of co-ops to the nation’s farmers.

To view submitted comments and other presentations made at the sessions, visit: public/workshops/ag2010/index.htm. If you have further questions about Capper-Volstead, contact Stephanie Smith at: stephaniem.smith@

Ag Competition Workshop Schedule

The final three of five workshops are being held: Additional updates and information, including agendas
and speakers, will be posted on the Antitrust Division's
events website at:

May/June Table of Contents