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The Wall Street Journal reports this morning that US federal prosecutors “have opened separate criminal probes into possible price-fixing by major egg producers and California tomato processors, the latest in a series of U.S. investigations of alleged collusion in food and agriculture.

“The investigations, which have not been previously reported, add to concerns that beyond the rising cost of fuel and feed, a hidden factor may be driving food prices higher: collusion among farmers, food processors or exporters.”

According to the Journal, “A Justice Department official confirmed that it had opened investigations into tomatoes and eggs. Federal agencies already are pursuing criminal or civil inquiries in markets including fertilizer, cheese and milk, examining whether suppliers worked in league to manipulate prices. The Justice Department said it had also opened a probe last year into the citrus-fruit industry.

“Higher food prices have become a hot issue in the presidential campaign and a rising source of anxiety in the global economy.”

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