Speaking in Iowa this week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the Justice Department will take action to ensure fair competition in agricultural markets and agribusiness, reports the Des Moines Register. The USDA, he says, is planning a series of public hearings next year to investigate claims that large agribusiness have gained too much control over markets and pricing.

Examples of companies that draw competitiveness concerns include biotech seed giant Monsanto, which controls licensing of key crop traits, and processors such as Dean Foods, which dairy farmers claim have controlled prices to the point that producers cannot profit on milk.

Vilsack was speaking to the Community Food Security Coalition, which scheduled its annual conference in Des Moines this year during the same week of the World Food Prize symposium, which brings together scientists, policymakers and anti-hunger advocates from around the world. The Community Food Security Coalition, according to the article, hoped to provide "alternative voices" to the World Food Prize, which they say promotes a vision of a food system the coalition doesn't share.

For more, see the Des Moines Register article.