UW-Madison to host workshop on competition and regulatory issues in dairy industry

June 22, 2010 By Stacy Forster

UPDATE, June 24: Attorney General Eric Holder will no longer attend this event.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will hear from farmers, processors, corporate leaders and academics about competition and regulatory issues in the dairy industry at a workshop this week hosted by the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The University of Wisconsin Law School is sponsoring the June 25 workshop, which will be open to the public and will take place in the Wisconsin Union Theater in UW–Madison’s Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division Christine Varney will open the workshop at 8:45 a.m. with remarks and a roundtable discussion.

The day will also feature a panel of dairy farmers sharing their experiences, as well as panel discussions on trends in the dairy industry, market consolidation and market transparency. Officials will hear two hours of public testimony — for one hour before lunch and another at the end of the day.

Peter Carstensen, a law professor and expert in antitrust law and competition policy, said the university and state should be honored by the decision to have the workshop in Madison.

“My hope is that there will be a very good turnout of all those engaged in the dairy industry to share their views with the folks from Washington,” Carstensen says.

Carstensen will be joined by Bob Cropp, emeritus professor of agricultural and applied economics at UW–Madison, and others for the panel on trends in the dairy industry. Brian Gould, associate professor of agricultural and applied economics, will be part of a group talking about market consolidation. Panels also feature farmers, processors, as well as other academics and dairy industry stakeholders.

UW-Madison is recognized as an international leader for dairy research, education and development, providing research and expertise on such issues as dairy cow health and genetics, milk yield and quality, farm management, marketing, and the nutrition and quality of dairy products. The university is home to the Centers for Dairy Profitability and Dairy Research, as well as the Babcock Institute for International Dairy Research. The university also operates an on-campus dairy plant, which tests and manufactures yogurt, ice cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products.

U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, U.S. Reps. Ron Kind of La Crosse, Steve Kagen of Appleton and Tammy Baldwin of Madison, Gov. Jim Doyle, and Wisconsin Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen have tentatively accepted invitations to join the keynote roundtable discussion, department officials say.

It is the third in a series of five joint public workshops put on by the departments. The first workshop was held in March in Ankeny, Iowa, with a focus on row crops and hogs, and the second, held in Normal, Ala., last month, dealt with issues in the poultry industry.

Members of the general public and media interested in attending the Wisconsin workshop should register here.

For more information, please visit here or send an e-mail to agriculturalworkshops@usdoj.gov.

Media who wish to attend the workshop may begin arriving at 7 a.m.; cameras must be pre-set by 8 a.m. Press inquiries regarding logistics at the Union Theater at UW–Madison should be directed to Stacy Forster at 608-262-0930 or forster2@wisc.edu.