Federal regulators launch probe of big agriculture

 ST. LOUIS (AP) - Federal regulators will begin holding hearings this week looking at competition in the agricultural industry.

Some officials in the Obama administration have said they are uncomfortable with the increasing control a handful of corporations have over the nation's food supply.

Christine Varney heads the Justice Department's antitrust division, and she says any time there's a lot of consolidation in an industry, it merits looking at.

Regulators with the U.S. Justice and Agriculture Departments are scheduled to meet Friday in a suburb of Des Moines, Iowa, for their first hearing on the issue. Four other hearings will be held later this year. The meetings are expected to examine competition in the seed, dairy, poultry, beef and crop industries.

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