Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday calling for an investigation into the America Egg Board and their alleged anti-competitive campaign against Hampton Creek’s “Just Mayo” vegan mayonnaise.
“Recent news reports have brought to light a series of emails, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, that contain compelling evidence that [American Egg Board] leadership, including the Egg Board’s President and CEO, may have violated the federal laws and administrative regulations governing checkoff programs,” the letter reads.
The 600 pages of correspondence suggest that members of the AEB staff, USDA officials, and top executives from the egg industry engaged in a strategic, multifaceted campaign to use the power and resources of the federal government to undermine the economic prospects of Hampton Creek, based on their fear that the food start-up’s product, Just Mayo, represented a “crisis” and a “major threat” to the egg industry,” the letter continues.
In addition to calling for a thorough investigation into the AEB, Lee also presses Secretary Vilsack to justify the existence of the AEB. “If these Great Depression era institutions have outlived their purpose, and if evidence suggests they behave like state-sponsored cartels that intimidate and handicap their competition, should Congress continue to authorize them,” the letter asks.
While Sen. Lee has never had the pleasure of trying “Just Mayo,” he is a huge fan of mayonnaise and is committed to preventing Big Egg from threatening what should otherwise be a dynamic and competitive mayonnaise market.