Agricultural Competition Partnership FAQs

What does this partnership do?

As announced in 2022, USDA’s Agricultural Competition Partnership will provide funding to state attorneys general offices to enhance fairness and competition in the food and agriculture markets. 

Who can apply and how?

State attorney general offices (AGOs) should provide USDA with written statements of interest to join or depart the program. USDA welcomes state agricultural, tribal, and other law enforcement offices that enforce or promote fair and competitive food and agricultural markets.

How will USDA and State AGOs use funds?

  • Quick support: Small amounts of funding for a limited number of hours or pre-established maximum amount, e.g.: for purchases of support technologies, including licenses or services; preliminary analysis services; auditing or economic services.
  • Enforcement support: Support for enforcement actions of a larger scale. Project selection shall prioritize activities that include multiple states and USDA and activities that are additive enforcement, including novel matters, theories, or authorities.
  • Research support: Academic and market-related research focused on antitrust and fair business practices enforcement relevant to state attorneys general offices and/or USDA.
  • Education and training: Facilitation of events that would increase understanding of competition law or policy market realities. 
  • Innovation: Development of new enforcement infrastructure or practices, e.g.: new mechanisms to collect complaints to the appropriate agency; or developing resources and technologies to enhance enforcement or promote market fairness, such as exchanges.

Funds are intended to promote cooperation between AGOs and USDA in the promotion of fair and competitive food and agricultural markets and complementary to coordination occurring with the Federal Antitrust Agencies.

How will the partnership be administered?

Following the recommendation of an AGO working group, USDA has established a cooperative with the Center for State Enforcement of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Laws, Inc. (the State Center) to assist USDA in administering the program. The State Center is an independent nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that provides similar services to AGOs today, with a strong track record of confidentiality, prevention of conflicts of interest, and expertise in antitrust.

Program oversight will be directed by participating attorneys general offices in cooperation with USDA.  An Oversight Committee made up of AGOs participating in the Partnership, along with USDA and State Center as ex officio member, will develop criteria for the selection and implementation of projects and otherwise governing the Partnership, including selecting the Project Selection Advisory Committee and ensuring appropriate transparency regarding the governance of the Partnership while maintaining appropriate confidentiality and the prevention of conflicts of interest in project selection.  A Project Selection Advisory Committee shall advise the Partnership in reviewing applications.  Projects may be approved either with a recommendation of the Project Selection Advisory Committee or on approval of USDA.

What governs this partnership?

The American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) section 1001(b)(4) authorizes USDA with funding to “improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency.” USDA is utilizing ARP funding to establish the Agricultural Competition Partnership to promote fair and competitive food and agricultural supply chains.