But, Maffei said, the antitrust focus has given the commission tools and confidence to investigate other abuses by shipping lines now and in the future when demand plummets and companies may be tempted to keep their freight rates artificially high. “I think it has increased our credibility with companies and has prevented anti-competitive behavior,” he said.
Perhaps the government’s most sustainable focus in the near future has been on the meat industry. In a report by the National Economic Council earlier this month, the largest meat processors accused of price gouging to dampen profits. According to the latest data from the Labor Statistics Office, meat prices rose 16 percent in November compared to the same month last year.
“We see how the dominant meat processors use their market power to generate ever larger profit margins for themselves.” the report said. “Companies that face significant competition cannot do this because they would lose their business to a competitor who has not increased its margins.”
The North American Meat Institute, an industry lobby group, denied the allegations, accusing the Biden administration of picking out economic data. It was said that the White House was overlooking record demand for beef, pork and poultry.
“The White House Economic Council again demonstrates its ignorance of agricultural economics and the fundamentals of supply and demand,” said Julie Anna Potts, president of the Meat Institute.
The clash between Mr Biden and Big Meat put the spotlight on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who held the same position during the eight years of the Obama administration. Some agribusinesses criticized Mr Vilsack’s nomination for failing to engage in antitrust efforts in his previous tenure and instead overseeing an era of consolidation in the agribusiness, including the Monsanto and Bayer merger. After leaving the Obama administration, Mr. Vilsack became a lobbyist for the dairy industry.
Mr. Vilsack is now responsible for developing new rules to strengthen a law, the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, designed to protect farmers from anti-competitive practices in the meat industry and to encourage consumers to shop directly from farmers. However, the rules set out under Mr Biden’s July Competition Regulation have yet to be announced. This has revived the assumption that Mr Vilsack owes much to large agricultural corporations.