The Associated Wholesale Grocers — which claims to represent more than 1,900 retail grocers — filed suit in U.S. District Court, alleging violations of free market laws, ABC News reports.
In the suit, the AWG alleges that farmers are violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act and the Kansas Restraint of Trade Act. The suit accuses potato farmers in 12 states — which produce more than 80% of the nation’s potato acreage — of engaging in a plot to maintain higher-than-market prices for their crops.
According to the accusations in the complaint, growers and shippers used several methods to control the supply of potatoes and thereby stabilize and raise prices. The suit alleges that several hundred growers commenced the conspiracy in a series of meetings in 2003 and 2004.
“Defendants analogized their potato cartel to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (“OPEC”)—the notorious petroleum supply-reduction and price-fixing cartel composed of various foreign nations,” the complaint reads.