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Court Decision Against Peruvian Shepherds Sets Dangerous Precedent for U.S. Workers

Date Published: September 12, 2019

In 2015, a group of Peruvian shepherds working for sheep ranchers in the western U.S. filed an antitrust suit alleging that the ranchers had colluded to hold down wages and avoid competing for labor. A judge initially dismissed the case and a three-judge panel on the Tenth Circuit agreed this July. The plaintiffs petitioned for another chance at their day in court. Open Markets Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway asserts that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal’s recent decision sets a precedent that, if adopted by other courts, could legalize cartel activity across the entire economy against both workers and consumers.

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California Authorities Investigating Amazon for Shadow Liquor Store as Prime Now Expands Alcohol Delivery

Date Published: August 28, 2019

The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control is investigating whether or not Amazon’s Los Angeles location meets state qualifications for a liquor store. Amazon intends to focus on delivering alcohol giving the online corporation a competitive advantage over California alcohol retailers who must pay for staff, stocking, and real estate.

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One Private Equity Fund Could Own a Quarter of the Chicken Houses for Costco’s Nebraska Project

Date Published: August 15, 2019

Will out-of-state investors own a sizable portion of Costco’s chicken production? One investor from North Carolina has applied for permits to build at least 132 chicken houses across nine locations in four Nebraska counties, according to public documents reviewed by Food & Power. Read Claire Kelloway’s latest story on how one private equity fund could own a quarter of the chicken houses for Costco’s project in Nebraska.

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What an Ongoing Lawsuit Says About Google’s Power in Online Travel

Date Published: August 8, 2019

On July 16, Google representative Adam Cohen argued to the House antitrust subcommittee that the tech giant was an afterthought when people start planning for travel. “When [people] are searching for places to travel, hotels and airlines, they start with dedicated specialist competitors,” Cohen said. Actually, they don’t.  A full sixty percent of all travel searches today begin on Google and the corporation’s dominance – and its profits from this business – are growing fast.   

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At FTC Workshop, Advocates and Business Owners Say Manufacturers Monopolize Repair

Date Published: August 1, 2019

“Do farmers truly own their tractors if they aren’t allowed to fix them?” writes Open Markets Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway. “That’s the question posed by the growing Right to Repair campaign.” Read her latest piece on the Federal Trade Commission’s Right to Repair workshop that brought together small business owners, state lawmakers, trade group representatives, and advocates to explain the different ways manufacturers prevent buyers from fixing their products, and whether or not they are justified.

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Big Box Retailers Discover the Virtues of Antitrust

Date Published: July 12, 2019

The Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents Walmart, Target, Home Depot, and other national retailers, wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission last week demanding that the FTC examine “persistent oligopolies in other parts of the retail ecosystem.”

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New Data Shows Walmart’s Dominance in Local Grocery Markets

Date Published: July 3, 2019

by Claire Kelloway

Walmart sells 50 percent or more of all groceries in one in every ten metropolitan areas and nearly one in three “micropolitan” areas across the country, according to a report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, out last week. In 38 of these regions, Walmart sells 70 percent or more of all groceries.

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Expanding the Frontier of Agricultural Co-ops, Maine Loggers Gain Collective Bargaining Rights

Date Published: June 20, 2019

Open Markets Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway covers the story of a new law in Maine granting loggers and haulers the right to bargain collectively with forest owners and sawmills. Maine’s new law expands the antitrust exemption for farmers’ cooperatives to include loggers and haulers. Yet the need for the exemption reveals a much deeper question about how we interpret antitrust laws and who is, and is not, allowed to economically cooperate.

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Must Big Beget Big? Why Monopolization Is Not the Answer to Monopolization

Date Published: June 18, 2019

Last Thursday, the Justice Department (DOJ) sued to prevent printing giant Quad from acquiring its main competitor, LSC Communications. The $1.4 billion deal between “the two most significant magazine, catalog, and book printers in the United States,” the DOJ’s Antitrust Division wrote in its complaint, “threatens to increase prices, reduce quality, and limit availability of printed material that millions of Americans rely on to receive and disseminate information and ideas.”

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Foreign-Owned Meatpacker Receives Trade War Bailout, Critics Say it Won’t Help Farmers

Date Published: June 6, 2019

Last week, several senators called on the USDA to stop giving federal trade-related farm aid to foreign-owned corporations, particularly Brazil’s JBS, the largest meatpacker in the world. This follows a bill by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., that would require USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to only purchase foods from American companies, when available. Read the latest story by Open Markets Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway on how the debate around foreign corporations receiving federal contracts misses the larger question of whether or not these contracts will trickle down to farmers at all.

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Why Monopolies Abroad Don’t Justify Monopolies at Home

Date Published: May 31, 2019

In a recent interview, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg deployed a talking point that other platform monopolists are increasingly using. Don’t break up Facebook, she said, because that will just allow Chinese companies to come in and fill the void. What’s wrong with this argument? It presents a false choice.

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Catch Share Programs Consolidating Alaskan Fisheries – Cutting Out Small, Rural, and Young Fishermen

Date Published: May 23, 2019

A recent study documenting consolidation and specialization in Alaska’s fisheries over the past three decades illustrates a broader trend taking hold in coastal communities across the country. Catch share programs, a new fisheries management system, are turning fishing rights into tradable commodities, driving up the cost to fish and consolidating fishing rights into the hands of a few wealthy owners.

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In Apple v. Pepper, Supreme Court Deals Surprising Blow to “Bottleneck Monopolies”

Date Published: May 20, 2019

In a 5-4 decision Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that iPhone users could bring a class action lawsuit against Apple alleging that it monopolized the sale of apps. In his surprising majority opinion for the Court, Justice Brett Kavanaugh, joined by the four more liberal Justices, reaffirmed antitrust law’s longstanding purpose of protecting the producer of a good or service from the power of monopolies. This was in sharp contrast to most recent practice, in which enforcers and the judiciary have focused largely on harms to consumers.

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Black Farmers Association Opposes BB&T and SunTrust Bank Merger

Date Published: May 13, 2019

In a recent letter to government regulators, the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) argues that the proposed $66 billion takeover of SunTrust by BB&T will harm “rural and economically disadvantaged areas.” In the letter, the NBFA said the takeover will result in fewer rural branches, less competition in the regions where many of their members farm, and cuts in staff and services, particularly those dedicated to anti-discrimination compliance oversight.

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Ranchers Group Sues Packers for Conspiracy to Decrease Cattle Prices

Date Published: April 25, 2019

Open Markets Food & Power reporter Claire Kelloway covers the story of a class-action lawsuit by the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund (R-CALF) alleging that dominant meatpackers conspired to depress cattle prices starting in 2015. The case argues that JBS, Tyson, Cargill, and National Beef strategically cut back on open market cattle bids, closed plants, and imported costly foreign cattle in order to force farmers to accept lower prices and manipulate spot market cattle values.

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Open Markets Action’s Heartland Forum Tackles Regional Inequality

Date Published: April 4, 2019

Last Saturday, five Democratic Party presidential hopefuls gathered at an event in Storm Lake, Iowa to present their platforms for revitalizing America’s farms and rural communities. Co-sponsored by the HuffPost, Iowa Farmers Union, Open Markets Action, and The Storm Lake Times, the Heartland Forum received wide coverage in the press, most of it focused on how all the candidates called for much stronger enforcement of antitrust laws against the corporations that dominate agricultural and food systems.

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Twin U.K. Reports on Platform Monopolies Come Up Short on Fixes

Date Published: March 25, 2019

Last week, the U.K. government and the House of Lords each released long reports detailing some of the growing threats that platform monopolies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon pose to individual citizens, businesses, and overall society. Unfortunately, both reports failed to provide a plan to deal effectively with the problem.

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How a New Corporate Model in Hog Farming Puts Rural Communities at Risk

Date Published: March 15, 2019

Many rural residents – including many farmers – do not want large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in their communities, as evinced by a growing number of efforts to halt new CAFOs or sue them for environmental damage. But a newly popular corporate structure for hog production makes it increasingly difficult for residents to even determine who owns a CAFO let alone seek justice through civil suits.

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Big Ag Eyes Big Aquaculture

Date Published: February 28, 2019

The world is eating more farmed fish, and global grain traders intend to control the fish feeding business much as they control the feeding of other farm animals. In her latest piece, Open Markets’ reporter Claire Kelloway looks examines the fastest growing form of food production in the world — aquaculture.

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Today in Monopoly – Tuesday, February 26th

Date Published: February 26, 2019

Here are some stories we had our eye on today:

Congress dives into privacy

Axios, David McCabe

Lawmakers who will play key roles inwriting a national privacy law may tip their hands at a series of hearings this week. Why it matters: Industry groups have been pushing Congress to take action that would override a growing number of state privacy laws, led by regulations set to go into effect inCalifornia next year.

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An Anti-Monopoly Approach for the Green New Deal

Date Published: February 23, 2019

As Open Markets makes clear through our whole body of work, many if not most of the gravest ills in our society today are caused or made worse by monopolization. The way forward is not to put the state in charge, nor to “let the market work.” It is to use the state to engineer competitive markets in every sector of our economy. 

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Today in Monopoly – Wednesday, February 20th

Date Published: February 20, 2019

Here are some stories we had our eye on today:

UK regulator thwarts Sainsbury’s £7.3bn deal to acquire Asda

Financial Times, Jonathan Eley, Barney Thompson and Arash Massoudi

J Sainsbury’s planned £7.3bn takeover of rival Asda was on the brink of collapse on Wednesday after the UK competition regulator expressed “extensive concerns” over whether there was any way the deal could proceed without undermining supermarket competition in Britain.

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Today in Monopoly – Tuesday, February 19th

Date Published: February 19, 2019

Here are some stories we had our eye on today:

Facebook Targeted in Scathing Report by British Parliament

New York Times, Adam Satariano

After 18 months investigating Facebook and online misinformation, a British parliamentary committee issued a scathing report on Monday, accusing the company of breaking data privacy and competition laws and calling for new regulations to rein in the technology industry.

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Today in Monopoly – Friday, February 15th

Date Published: February 15, 2019

Here are some stories we had our eye on today:

The U.S. government and Facebook are negotiating a record, multibillion-dollar fine for the company’s privacy lapses

Washington Post, Tony Romm

The Federal Trade Commission and Facebook are negotiating over a multi-billion dollar fine that would settle the agency’s investigation into the social media giant’s privacy practices, according to two people familiar with the probe.

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Data Consolidation Threatens Sustainable Agriculture Says International Panel

Date Published: February 15, 2019

If you care about reducing pesticide use, promoting agricultural biodiversity, and supporting small farmers, then you should also care about who’s amassing agricultural data. That’s the message of a new report from a group of sustainable food policy experts, out last week. The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems spent three years putting together a comprehensive food policy platform outlining how the European Union can build a more equitable and sustainable food system. Among dozens of proposals, the report called on EU regulators to “block agribusiness mergers leading to over-consolidation of farm data” as a way to promote more resilient and ecological food production.

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The Merger That Could Kill Your Favorite Magazine

Date Published: January 10, 2019

Google’s and Facebook’s ever-tightening control over online advertising spending in the United States continues to make it harder for magazine publishers to keep their businesses alive. But publishers’ jobs may soon get even more difficult if the Department of Justice fails to block printer Quad/Graphics’ $1.4 billion bid to buy its only major competitor in the business of printing physical magazines, LSC Communications.

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Trump Administration Guts Office Designed to Protect Farmers from Ag Monopolies

Date Published: December 6, 2018

Almost a century ago, in 1921, Congress passed the Packers & Stockyards Act to protect America’s farmers and ranchers from meat packing monopolies. Last week the Department of Agriculture quietly eliminated the independent office tasked with enforcing that law, the Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). The change was the single biggest in agricultural antitrust regulation since Congress passed the original Act.

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Check out our new report – America’s Concentration Crisis

Date Published: November 26, 2018

Monopoly power is all around us: as consumers, business owners, employees, entrepreneurs, and citizens. When we purchase everything from washing machines to groceries, website domains to medical supplies, and even when we select a coffin for a recently deceased loved one, we are constrained by the small set of actors who increasingly control America’s commerce.

Due to extreme concentrations of wealth and political power, our country is experiencing severe economic inequality, stagnant household income, the collapse of business formation and innovation, and historic levels of political polarization.

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Open Markets and Public Knowledge Asks International Trade Commission to Protect Competition

Date Published: November 9, 2018

View the original story by Shiva Stella here

Today, Public Knowledge and the Open Markets Institute sent a letter to the International Trade Commission supporting a recent administrative law judge’s decision that Qualcomm’s requested relief of banning certain models of Apple’s iPhone from the U.S. market would harm the public interest, by reducing competition in the premium baseband market.

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Today in Monopoly – Monday, November 5, 2018

Date Published: November 5, 2018

Here are some stories we’ve had our eye on today:

Amazon in Late-Stage Talks With Cities Including Crystal City, Va., Dallas, New York City for HQ2
The Wall Street Journal, Laura Stevens, Scott Calvert, and Tawnell D. Hobbs Inc. has progressed to late-stage talks on its planned second headquarters with a small handful of communities including northern Virginia’s Crystal City, Dallas and New York City, people familiar with the matter said, as it nears a final decision that could reshape both the tech giant and the location it chooses.

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Today in Monopoly – Friday, October 26, 2018

Date Published: October 26, 2018

Here are some stories we had our eye on today:

The Global Tech Backlash Is Just Beginning
Wall Street Journal, Christopher Mims
The largest tech businesses reach more people than any other companies have in history, and by many metrics they have also grown at unprecedented speeds. The companies themselves argue tech is bringing great benefits to people and improving their lives, yet when they enter industries, they consolidate power and make competitors miserable in ways not seen since the Gilded Age.

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Today in Monopoly – Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Date Published: October 24, 2018

Here are some stories we had our eye on today:

Apple’s Tim Cook delivers searing critique of Silicon Valley
The Washington Post, Tony Romm
Apple chief executive Tim Cook on Wednesday warned the world’s most powerful regulators that the poor privacy practices of some tech companies, the ills of social media and the erosion of trust in his own industry threaten to undermine “technology’s awesome potential” to address challenges like disease and climate change.

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Big Food Paybacks to Cafeteria Operators Spark Controversy

Date Published: September 13, 2018

Last week, a coalition of farmers, fishermen, and food system activists launched a new campaign that calls on three dominant food service management companies, Aramark, Compass Group, and Sodexo, to increase local and humane food purchasing, invest in racial equity, and reduce their carbon emissions, among other demands. These companies represent 77.5 percent of the food service management industry, or the business of running cafeterias and restaurants for hospitals, schools, stadiums, corporate headquarters, and other institutions.

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Colluding Pork Packers Accused of Pigging Out On Fixed Prices

Date Published: July 19, 2018

Since roughly 2009, Americans may have been paying too much for their pork chops, barbeque, hams, and trotters. That’s the claim of two law firms that filed separate class action suits on behalf of consumers and food distributors charging eight major pork packers and an industry data sharing service, Agri Stats, with colluding to manipulate prices.

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Bayer-Monsanto Deal Closes as Farmers Warn of Higher Prices and Less Resiliency

Date Published: July 6, 2018

On Thursday, Bayer closed its $62.5 billion purchase of Monsanto. This comes roughly a week after the Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the merger, on the condition that the corporations sell off $9 billion worth of assets, including seed divisions, intellectual property, research projects, and more. Yet even after these divestitures, the combined entity will be the largest global seed and agrochemical corporation, and U.S. based field crop growers fear the power of the new combine.

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Mars Buys Another Veterinary Network, as a Candy-Company Turned Pet Care Giant Furthers its Influence Over Animal Health

Date Published: June 21, 2018

Last week, Mars, the company best known for brands like Snickers, Skittles, and Wrigley’s gum, purchased AniCura, a network of 200 animal hospitals spanning seven European countries. On its face, Mars’ acquisition of AniCura might not seem to make business sense. What synergies could possibly exist between making candy bars and taking care of sick dogs and cats? Yet, it turns out the deal is part of a much larger trend in which Big Food companies are cornering the business of both feeding and caring for pets.

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