September 21, 2023
Industry Concentration Is the Wrong Way To Judge Meatpacking Mergers
In September, Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) introduced the Strengthening Antitrust Enforcement for Meatpacking Act which would establish concentration thresholds to define a merger or acquisition in the meatpacking industry deemed a monopoly and considered in violation of antitrust law. In a new insight, Competition Economics Analyst Fred Ashton examines how the bill would function, considers how it may risk blocking procompetitive mergers, and makes the case that existing antitrust law already protects consumers from harmful mergers and acquisitions.
While the Strengthening Antitrust Enforcement for Meatpacking Act aims to prevent further industry consolidation, it would undermine the very complex merger evaluation process undertaken by the antitrust agencies. Current antitrust laws and provisions in the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 are sufficient to protect consumers from mergers and acquisitions among meatpackers where the effect is market power. The proposed legislation attempts to oversimplify this process and risks blocking potentially procompetitive mergers.