Increased costs, new and persevering with provide chain issues, and extra within the wake of Russia’s unprovoked warfare on Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic could also be reinvigorating discussions and questions in regards to the markets, competitors, antitrust and agriculture (see e.g., farmdoc daily, April 26, 2022; April 13, 2022; April 5, 2022; and Irwin, April 14, 2022). From fertilizer costs to cattle markets, the problems are more and more within the highlight, entrance and heart in coverage discussions (see e.g., U.S. Senate, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Hearing, April 26, 2022; House Committee on Agriculture, Hearings, April 27, 2022). Antitrust and competitors insurance policies possess a protracted, sophisticated historical past and agriculture has typically been within the center of the dialogue. For background to the dialogue, this text presents a abstract evaluate of the legislative historical past for the most important antitrust, antimonopoly and truthful competitors statutes.
U.S. antitrust laws originated within the period generally known as the Gilded Age on the finish of the 19th Century; it was the reign of the Robber Barons, well-known names resembling Andrew Carnegie, John Pierpont Morgan and John D. Rockefeller. The years across the flip of the 20th Century had been dominated by the Trust Movement, wherein financial ideas had been blended with Social Darwinism to realize the objective of monopoly management throughout all sectors. At the time, the trusts had been new entities that sought to get rid of competitors and opponents, accumulating huge quantities of wealth and energy, together with political energy. As only one instance, to create the U.S. Steel monopoly, J.P. Morgan purchased out Andrew Carnegie for an quantity that made Carnegie the richest man on the planet. Morgan additionally created the Northern Securities Company to monopolize the western railroads and, of course, Rockefeller created the Standard Oil Company, which monopolized the oil trade and abused energy via a cartel with the railroads. For American agriculture these points had been prevalent and vital; commodity trusts had been additionally created, together with for tobacco, cotton and sugar, whereas monopolization within the railroad sector was notably problematic for farmers. (see e.g., Sawyer 2019; Wu 2018; Hovenkamp 2015).
Discussion: Legislative History of Antitrust Law
(1) The Sherman Antitrust Act, 1890
Senator John Sherman (R-OH), the youthful brother of the well-known Civil War common William T. Sherman, launched laws to guard commerce and commerce from “unlawful restraints and monopoly” (S.1 of the 51st Congress; December 4, 1889; H. Rept. 51-1707). On the Senate flooring, he argued towards the “new form of combination commonly called trusts, that seeks to avoid competition” by “placing the power and property of the combination under a few individuals, and often under the control of a single man” and that the “sole object of such a combination is to make competition impossible.” He added that if the “concentrated powers of this combination are intrusted [sic] to a single man, it is a kingly prerogative, inconsistent with our form of government, and should be subject to the strong resistance of the State and national authorities,” as a result of if the United States “will not endure a king as a political power we should not endure a king over the production, transportation, and sale of any of the necessaries of life” (Congressional Record, March 21, 1890, at 2457).
The Sherman Act handed the Senate on April 8, 1890, by a vote of 52 to 1 (29 absent) (Congressional Record, April 8, 1890, at 3152-43). The House amended the Senate invoice and handed it and not using a recorded vote on May 1, 1890 (Congressional Record, May 1, 1890, at 4104). The Senate concurred within the convention report on June 18, 1890, by unanimous consent and with out additional debate or votes (Congressional Record, June 18, 1890, at 6208). The House agreed to the convention report on June 20, 1890, by a vote of 212 to 0 (85 not voting) (Congressional Record, June 20, 1890, at 6314). President Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President (1889 to 1893) and graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, signed the Sherman Act into legislation on July 2, 1890 (Congressional Record, July 2, 1890, at 6922; The White House, Presidents: Benjamin Harrison). Figure 1 illustrates the voting in Congress on the Sherman Act and Figure 2 summarizes the Act’s key provisions.
Figure 1.Summary of Votes on Sherman Antitrust Act
Figure 2. Summary of Sherman Antitrust Act
(2) The Clayton Antitrust Act, 1914
The Sherman Antitrust Act languished considerably within the palms of the Courts and the Department of Justice, till the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, the nation’s most well-known Trustbuster. Roosevelt’s DOJ first went after Morgan’s Northern Securities Company in 1902 (Morris 2001, at 87-93; Sawyer 2019). It can be two dozen years earlier than Congress took up the problem once more.
On April 14, 1914, Representative Henry De Lamar Clayton Jr. (D-AL), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, launched laws to complement the Sherman Antitrust Act (63rd Congress, 2nd Session; H.R. 15657). The House agreed to the invoice on June 5, 1914, by a vote of 277 to 54 (3 voted current; 99 not voting) (Congressional Record, June 5, 1914, at 9911). The Senate agreed to the laws on September 2, 1914, by a vote of 46 to 16 (34 not voting) (Congressional Record, September 2, 1914, at 14610). The Senate agreed to the convention report on October 5, 1914, by a vote of 35 to 24 (37 not voting) (Congressional Record, October 5, 1914, at 16170). The House handed the convention report on October 8, 1914, by a vote of 245 to 52 (5 voted current; 126 not voting) (Congressional Record, October 8, 1914, at 16344). President Woodrow Wilson signed the Clayton Antitrust Act into legislation on October 15, 1914 (see, Congressional Record, October 16, 1914, at 16756; P.L. 63-212). Figures 3 illustrates the votes on the Clayton Act and Figure 4 summarizes key provisions.
Figure 3. Votes on Clayton Antitrust Act
Figure 4. Summary of Clayton Antitrust Act
(3) The Packers and Stockyards Act, 1921
Introduced by Representative Gilbert N. Haugen (R-IA), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, on May 8, 1921, to “regulate interstate and foreign commerce in livestock, live-stock products, dairy products, poultry, poultry products and eggs” and offering the Secretary of Agriculture with “jurisdiction over the packers, stockyards, commission men, traders, buyers, and sellers in the stockyard” (67th Congress, 1st Session; H.R. 6320; H. Rept. 67-77). The House agreed to the invoice and not using a recorded vote on May 31, 1921 (Congressional Record, May 31, 1921, at 1932). The Senate agreed to its model of the invoice on June 17, 1921, by a vote of 45 to 21 (30 not voting) (Congressional Record, June 17, 1921, at 2713). The convention committee reported a remaining model of the laws on August 2, 1921 (H. Rept. 67-324). The Senate agreed to the convention report on August 4, 1921, by a vote of 48 to 10 (38 not voting) (Congressional Record, August 4, 1921, at 4644). The House agreed to the convention report on August 9, 1921, once more and not using a recorded vote (Congressional Record, August 9, 1921, at 4787). President Warren G. Harding signed it into legislation on August 15, 1921 (P.L. 67-51). Figure 5 illustrates the votes in Congress on the Packers & Stockyards Act and Figure 6 gives a abstract of key provisions.
Figure 5. Votes on P&SA 1921
Figure 6. Summary of P&SA 1921
(4) The Robinson-Patman Act, 1936: Price Discrimination
Introduced on June 11, 1935, by Representative Wright Patman (D-TX), to make it “unlawful for any person engaged in commerce to discriminate in price or terms of sale” it was not reported out by the House Judiciary Committee till March 31, 1936 (74th Congress, 2nd Session, June 11, 1935, H.R. 8442; H. Rept. 74-2287). Senator Joseph T. Robinson (D-AR) and Senate Majority Leader launched the Senate model of the value discrimination invoice on May 13, 1936, which was reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 3, 1936 (74th Congress, 1st Session, S.3154; S. Rept. 74-1502). The Senate agreed to its model on April 30, 1936, by unanimous consent (Congressional Record, April 30, 1936, at 6436). The House agreed to its model of the invoice on a division vote of 290 to 16 on May 28, 1936 (Congressional Record, May 28, 1936, at 8242). The House agreed to the convention report on June 15, 1936, and not using a recorded vote (Congressional Record, June 15, 1936, at 9422). The Senate agreed to the convention report by unanimous consent on June 18, 1936 (Congressional Record, June 18, 1936, at 9904). President Franklin Roosevelt signed it into legislation on June 10, 1936, amending Section 2 of the antitrust statute because it had been supplemented by the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act (P.L. 74-692). Figure 7 illustrates the voting in Congress and Figure 8 summarizes the provisions of the legislation.
Figure 7. Votes on Price Discrimination Bill, 1936
Figure 8. Summary of Price Discrimination Bill, 1936
(5) The Celler-Kefauver Act, 1950: Mergers and Acquisitions
Representative Emmanuel Celler (D-NY) launched laws to amend the Clayton Antitrust Act on February 15, 1949, which was reported by the House Judiciary Committee August 4, 1949 (81st Congress, 1st Session, February 15, 1949, H.R. 2734; H. Rept. 81-1191). The House handed it on suspension of the principles on August 15, 1949, by a vote of 223 to 92 (117 not voting) (Congressional Record, August 15, 1949, at 11507). The Senate Judiciary Committee reported its amendments to the invoice on June 2, 1950 (S. Rept. 81-1775). The Senate didn’t conform to the invoice till December 13, 1950, which Senators handed by a vote of 55 to 22 (19 not voting) (Congressional Record, December 13, 1950, at 16508). The House concurred within the Senate amendments with out additional consideration or a recorded vote on December 14, 1950 (Congressional Record, December 14, 1950, at 16574). President Harry Truman signed the invoice into legislation on December 29, 1950 (P.L. 81-899). Figure 9 illustrates the votes in Congress and Figure 10 summarizes the amendments to the antitrust legal guidelines.
Figure 9. Votes on Celler-Kefauver, 1950
Figure 10. Summary of Celler-Kefauver, 1950
(6) Agricultural Fair Practices Act of 1967
On January 11, 1967, Senator George Aiken (R-VT) launched laws to “control unfair trade practices affecting producers of agricultural products and associations of such producers” and, though he was the rating member of the Agriculture and Forestry Committee, he was listed because the lead in reporting it to the Senate on August 3, 1967 (90th Congress, 1st Session, January 11, 1967, S.109; S. Rept. 90-474). He had launched the invoice within the earlier Congress as effectively. The Senate handed it by unanimous consent on August 4, 1967 (Congressional Record, August 4, 1967, at 21411). The House agreed to an amended model on March 25, 1968, by a vote of 232 to 90 (111 not voting) (Congressional Record, March 25, 1968, at 7468). Senator Aiken, noting that the House had made no main modifications to the invoice, requested the Senate concur within the House modification. The Senate concurred within the House modification by unanimous consent on April 1, 1968 (Congressional Record, Aril 1, 1968, at 8419). President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the invoice into legislation on April 16, 1968 (P.L. 90-288). Figure 11 illustrates the voting in Congress and Figure 12 summarizes the Act.
Figure 11. Votes on Ag Fair Practices Act, 1967
Figure 12. Summary of Ag Fair Practices Act, 1967
Today, the antitrust statutes occupy Chapter 1 of the title on Commerce and Trade, with the Sherman Act within the first seven sections (15 U.S.C. §§1-38). Federal legislation on the matter nonetheless opens with the broad declaration that “[e]very contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce . . . is declared illegal” (15 U.S.C. §1). The statute and its legislative historical past current solely half of the historical past for competitors and antitrust legislation within the United States. The Federal Judiciary has performed an infinite and profound position, however any exploration of the subject ought to start with the provisions of the U.S. Code and a primary understanding of how the legislation got here to be, and what Congress meant. There is a via line, a single connecting thread that runs via the laws from 1890 onward, and it’s the elementary significance of competitors, the safety of truthful, equitable, purposeful and sturdy competitors. The safety of competitors by the rule of legislation reasonably than the rule of the wealthiest or strongest is the North Star of antitrust legislation.