The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are launching a broad “public inquiry” into whether and how they should strengthen enforcement of antitrust law and curb future corporate mergers.

Among other things, DOJ and FTC are seeking comment on whether the existing merger guidelines adequately implement the “statutory ban on transactions that ‘may’ substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly.”

The agencies also are seeking input on whether the existing concentration thresholds should be modified and “whether alternative metrics or qualitative factors should also trigger presumptions of competitive harm.”

In addition, they're considering updates to how they assess the impact of mergers on “potential and nascent competitors, which may be key sources of innovation and competition.”

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“Our country depends on competition to drive progress, innovation and prosperity,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter. “We need to understand why so many industries have too few competitors, and to think carefully about how to ensure our merger enforcement tools are fit for purpose in the modern economy.”    

Tuesday's announcement by the agencies come as the White House has been blaming concentration in the meatpacking industry for increases in food prices. Comments can be submitted to and must be received no later than Monday, March 21, 2022.

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