Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Senator Schumer meets with DOJ official to hear concerns of upstate dairy farmers and consumers

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer held a constituent forum with Christine A. Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Antitrust Division, who came to Batavia, New York at Schumer’s urging to meet with Upstate New York dairy farmers and consumers to explore potential anticompetitive practices in the dairy industry. Varney is the nation’s top antitrust investigator and she came to New York following a request by Schumer. The specific areas of focus during the forum included excessive market concentration, marketplace transparency and vertical integration in the dairy industry. Schumer hosted the meeting with Varney at the Genesee Community College in Batavia. During the meeting, constituents made statements and shared their concerns with Assistant Attorney General Varney.

“For too long farmers have been receiving rock-bottom prices for their products, while prices have not dropped commensurately for consumers at the stores,” Schumer said. “It just doesn’t add up. New York’s dairy industry has suffered tremendously in the past few years, and as I’ve traveled throughout the state, I’ve heard from constituents who are concerned that the state of competition in New York’s dairy industry may be playing a role. The Department of Justice did the right thing by sending the nation’s top antitrust investigator to New York to discuss this vital issues with the people whose livelihoods depend on a fair and competitive market.”

In an effort to reduce the pressure on struggling dairy farmers, Schumer has called on the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to take a hard look at the dairy industry and identify where the problems lay. In response to Schumer’s urging, the nation’s top antitrust official came to New York State to meet with dairy farmers and consumers to explore this problem.

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