17 August 2023, North Carolina: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) testified before the House Judiciary Committee recently on the agency’s work to “ensure open, competitive, and fair markets and to protect consumers from fraud, scams and other deceptive practices.”
FTC Chair Lina M. Khan outlined a dizzying array of FTC activities she says are designed to protect American consumers from unfair or deceptive practices in the marketplace. Among those activities she referenced was the agency’s continuing efforts in “preventing anticompetitive conduct that harms American farmers.”
In September 2022, the FTC and a bipartisan coalition of ten state Attorneys General charged the two largest pesticides manufacturers, Syngenta and Corteva, with “maintaining their monopoly positions by paying distributors to block competitors from selling their cheaper generic products to farmers.” The complaint alleges that Syngenta Crop Protection and Corteva, Inc. rely on pay-to-block schemes in which distributors get paid only if they limit their dealings with competing manufacturers.
“The legal issue in this case is whether the antitrust laws bar firms from extending their patent monopolies through programs that require distributors not to buy cheaper generic products,” reads the FTC statement filed with the House Judiciary Committee. “But for farmers,” it continues, “the question is more practical: Do the antitrust laws protect them from abusive monopoly practices that threaten their livelihood by denying them access to cheaper versions of products they have to buy?”
This case is pending in federal court in North Carolina.
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