Looking Beyond Efficiency: Applying the Consumer-Choice Standard to Agriculture
Volume 83, No. 2, Winter 2011
By Julie C. Berson

American farming has transformed over the years from millions of small farms spread across the United States to a highly concentrated industry dominated by only a few large companies. While this shift has made the industry efficient at producing large quantities of food, there are growing concerns regarding the costs of these efficiency-enhancing changes. Antitrust laws, which were enacted to prevent the degree of concentration now found in the agricultural sector, have failed the industry and its consumers. A new way of analyzing antitrust harm, particularly in agriculture, where consumers are particularly aware of nonprice aspects of competition, is necessary to prevent additional, and likely irreversible, damage to the market. This Comment makes the case that the consumer-choice model of review is particularly well suited for antitrust enforcement in the agricultural industry because of (1) consumer interest in the nonprice aspects of competition, (2) extensive government intervention in the market, and the (3) magnification of monopsony issues in the industry. Moreover, agriculture is shown to be similar to industries that theorists have identified as likely to benefit from the consumer-choice paradigm.

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