The Capper-Volstead Act is a powerful 1922 law that allows farmers and their cooperatives to act together for “collectively processing, preparing for market, handling, and marketing in interstate and foreign commerce.” Marketing as it is referred to here, includes price-setting and other conduct that would otherwise violate antitrust laws if not for Capper-Volstead.
In my article, “Protecting cooperatives from antitrust liability,” published by the USDA in its January/February 2015 issue of Rural Cooperatives, I outline why owners of farm cooperatives should be aware of recent lawsuits challenging the Capper-Volstead Act status of some potato, mushroom, egg and milk co-ops. “While the Capper-Volstead Act is the lifeblood of antitrust protection for agricultural cooperatives, recent legal developments present a difficult needle to thread. The parameters of a nearly 100-year-old law should be well settled, but that is rarely the case where large class action lawsuits are involved. Cooperatives and their members should keep apprised of ongoing trends in the area and take preventive steps to avoid potential liability.”