Attorney General Ellison applauds $15M grant to increase competition for meat and poultry processors, pledges vigilant antitrust enforcement

Part of first round of USDA grants and investments designed to increase competition, increase small and mid-size producer income, create economic opportunity, and lower consumers’ costs

November 4, 2022 (SAINT PAUL) — Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who has focused his office’s anti-trust work on fairness in Minnesota’s agricultural markets and rural communities, today applauded the news that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Rural Finance Authority $15 million to establish a new Meat and Poultry Revolving Loan Fund that will increase competition and economic opportunities for meat and poultry processors in Minnesota. The grant to Minnesota is part of USDA’s first round of Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) grant projects that are designed to increase competition, expand meat and poultry processing capacity, increase incomes for small and mid-size producers, create jobs and economic opportunities in rural areas, strengthen the food supply chain, and lower food costs for consumers and working families.  

As these resources arrive in Minnesota, Attorney General Ellison will continue to use his office’s powers to enforce market fairness in agriculture and will continue to monitor for predatory pricing and other unfair and anticompetitive business practices. 

“Fair agricultural markets benefit everyone: farmers and their families, Greater Minnesota communities, and all Minnesota consumers. Minnesota’s hard-working small and mid-size beef and poultry producers and their families want to be able to trust that they can get fair-market value for their products. Minnesota consumers want to have the confidence that they’re paying a fair price for meat and poultry products. But these markets aren’t working for producers or consumers right now – markets are already extremely consolidated, and supply-chain disruptions are making it even harder for producers and their families to make a living, and harder for consumers to afford food. 

“Fortunately, this USDA grant to MDA will create opportunities for Minnesota’s small and mid-size rural businesses to grow and compete more effectively, which will help everyone. With my office’s enforcement authority over antitrust behavior, we will remain vigilant for market manipulation as these small businesses work to expand.” 

Attorney General Ellison is a consistent, strong advocate for increasing competition in agriculture to benefit both small and mid-size producers as well as consumers. In December 2021, Attorney General Ellison co-led a bipartisan group of 16 attorneys general in advocating for increasing competition in the meat-processing industry in a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. In response, in January 2022 the U.S. Department of Justice and USDA jointly announced their shared commitment to effectively enforcing federal competition laws that protect farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural producers and growers from unfair and anticompetitive practices, including the antitrust laws and the Packers and Stockyards Act.  

In response to the same advocacy by the bipartisan coalition of attorneys general that Attorney General Ellison led, in September 2022 USDA announced a new $15 million Agricultural Competition collaboration with the State Attorneys General on enforcement of the competition laws strengthening the USDA’s partnerships with state attorneys general.  

Attorney General Ellison welcomed both developments.