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The Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 establishes a notification and review process that precedes mergers and acquisitions. Generally, large companies planning a merger or acquisition of another firm first must notify both the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, and provide the two agencies with information (which must be kept confidential) that enables them to assess the likely competitive impacts. The agencies usually have 30 days to make this assessment. During this period, USDA - which has no authority to approve mergers - might be asked, or decide on its own, to contribute information if the proposed merger affects agriculture.

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