Farmer Fairness Website Launched by Government
By: Sydney Sheffield
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) launch a new website for farmers and ranchers as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to uphold competition laws. Farmers and ranchers now can anonymously report potentially unfair and anti-competitive practices in the livestock and poultry sectors.
“When we talk about protecting competition in the agricultural sector, we are talking about whether a farmer or a rancher will be paid a fair and competitive price for their goods and labor. When we talk about protecting consumers in this context, we are talking about whether food will be affordable for everyone in America,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Today’s launch of farmerfairness.gov – a one-stop-shop to report potential violations of our competitions laws – will allow the Justice Department and USDA to collaborate early and ensure economic opportunity and fairness for all.”
The website was released one day after one of the largest beef packers, JBS, settled, agreeing to pay $52.5 million in a beef antitrust litigation that began in June 2020. The class-action lawsuit claimed that the beef processing companies “engaged in tactics including purchasing fewer cattle than a competitive market would otherwise demand and running their processing plants at less than available capacity.” JBS does not admit liability but believes settling is in the company’s best interest.
“This new online tool will help USDA and the Justice Department address anticompetitive actions and create livestock and poultry markets that are fairer to our nation’s producers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “I encourage producers who are aware of potential violations of competition laws to submit information to the portal so we can take appropriate action to create more competitive markets in the agricultural sector.”
Users can submit information under their names or may submit anonymous complaints. If a complainant provides their personal information, DOJ or USDA staff will only contact them if additional information is needed. Complaints or tips will go through a preliminary review by USDA Packers and Stockyards Division staff and Department of Justice staff. If a complaint raises sufficient concern under the Packers and Stockyards Act or antitrust laws, it will be selected for further investigation by the appropriate agency. This action may lead to the opening of a formal investigation.
Get more information on the Farmer Fairness program here.