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By Todd Neeley, DTN

Lincoln, NE - As agriculture and other industries continue to fight supply chain difficulties, the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday said it was stepping up efforts to monitor for companies that "exploit supply chain disruptions to engage in collusive conduct."

The DOJ announcement comes a day after U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told state agriculture officials at the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture winter meeting in Arlington, Virginia, the DOJ should be investigating ag input price increases such higher seed or chemical costs. (See

Vilsack was asked what USDA was doing to address supply chain issues and he responded, "And then -- and I think it's fair to say I've been asked this question, and we are asking it of the Justice Department -- are all of these increases absolutely justified?" he said.

The DOJ said on Thursday it was undertaking a new initiative aimed at making sure companies aren't taking advantage of the supply chain snags by raising prices on consumers.

"Transportation constraints, disruptions to routine business operations and difficulty in obtaining raw materials have all led to increased costs of production and shipment, which in turn have resulted in higher prices for consumers," the DOJ said in a news release.

"Supply chain disruptions have been broad in scope, affecting a variety of industries ranging from agriculture to health care."

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