Biden Admin Releases Meat Action Plan
By: Sydney Sheffield
The Biden Administration has released an action plan aimed to invest $1 billion to expand competition in the U.S. meatpacking industry and strengthen enforcement of antitrust laws. Given the recent infrastructure struggles, the plan is said to create a “fairer, more competitive, and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain.”
“Over the last few decades, we’ve seen too many industries become dominated by a handful of large companies that control most of the business and most of the opportunities—raising prices and decreasing options for American families, while also squeezing out small businesses and entrepreneurs. The meat and poultry processing sector is a textbook example, with lack of competition hurting consumers, producers, and our economy,” said a White House press release.
“Today, President Biden will meet with farmers, ranchers, and independent processors from across the country to hear from them and to announce the Biden-Harris Administration’s Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain. The Action Plan includes four core strategies for creating a more competitive, fair, resilient meat and poultry sector, with better earnings for producers and more choices and affordable prices for consumers,” the release continued.
The Administration with work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and plan to expand and diversify meat and poultry processing capacity, increase producer income, provide producers an opportunity to have ownership in processing facilities, create stable, well-paying jobs in rural regions, raise the bar on worker health, safety, training, and wages for meatpacking jobs, spur collaboration among producers and workers, prompt state, tribal, and private co-investment, and provide consumers with more choices. USDA states that over 450 comments were examined to develop this comprehensive list of target areas.
The announcement has generated mixed reviews from those in the industry. Eric Deeble, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), stated, “This plan is a very positive step to ensure farmers and ranchers receive fair prices and that the entire processing sector is more resilient, flexible, and fair to workers, too. Increasing independent processing options for farmers and ranchers also creates a more competitive market that benefits consumers.”
On the other hand, the North American Meat Institute’s (NAMI) President and CEO Julia Anna Potts believes the Administration “continues to ignore the number one challenge to meat and poultry production: labor shortages.” NAMI produced a list of questions that need to be answered for the plan to succeed, such as How long will the government-sponsored processors receive government money, and will the new plants have sufficient labor?