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Agricultural Cooperatives and the Law: Obsolete Statutes in a Dynamic Economy

38 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2014  

Peter Carstensen

University of Wisconsin Law School

Date Written: 2013


Farm cooperatives are important vehicles for the marketing of agricultural production. The Capper-Volstead Act's limited antitrust immunity and the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act's authorization of cartels along with some other equally old statutes still structure much of the marketing process for cooperatives. The results are anti-competitive harms to both farmers and consumers. In addition, despite the very large scale and vast membership of some cooperatives, no state or federal law provides membership governance rights and information disclosure comparable to that imposed on similarly sized corporations. Current judicial interpretation has constrained some of the worst aspects of these statutory schemes, but only a fundamental revision of the legislation can address the full range of current issues.

Keywords: Farm cooperatives, Capper-Volstead Act, Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act, Antitrust exemptions, Agricultural commodity market, Governance of cooperatives

JEL Classification: K42

Suggested Citation

Carstensen, Peter, Agricultural Cooperatives and the Law: Obsolete Statutes in a Dynamic Economy (2013). South Dakota Law Review, Vol. 58, p. 462, 2013; Univ. of Wisconsin Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1245. Available at SSRN:

Peter Carstensen (Contact Author)

University of Wisconsin Law School ( email )

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