February 24, 2022

NAMI States Changes to Packers & Stockyards Act could affect Sustainability

NAMI States Changes to Packers & Stockyards Act could affect Sustainability 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) released a statement that the Biden Administration’s Packers and Stockyards Act proposed rules could limit the abilities of the meat and poultry industry to meet sustainability goals. Biden plans to expand competition in the meatpacking industry and regulate interactions between packers and producers. 

“In the case of beef, farmers and ranchers produce cattle using 33% less land, 12% less water, and with a 16% smaller carbon footprint in 2007 compared to 1977. That is an astounding sustainability success story,” said Julie Anna Potts, President, and CEO of NAMI. “The U.S. meat industry cannot continue to build on this remarkable sustainable productivity growth and meet consumer expectations if the government restricts interactions between packers and producers. Government intervention could jeopardize the gains made to date as well, as the industry’s ability to provide the products customers demand in the future.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has three proposed rules to strengthen enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act meant to provide producers with more leverage and the ability to sue for unfair competitive practices by packers. The Trump administration had finalized its own Packers and Stockyards rules late last year that the Biden team immediately halted when coming into office. "The last administration weakened that law, making it possible for the abuse that we're seeing now," Biden said. "We're going to strengthen that law to make sure it works as intended."

The new rules proposed for the Packers and Stockyards Act would discourage the use of alternative marketing arrangements (AMAs), tools said to have improved efficiency, productivity, and risk management over the past two decades and allowed the sector to meet consumer expectations for increased beef quality. According to NAMI, AMAs increase market efficiency by transmitting market signals about consumers’ preferences to producers, as demonstrated by beef quality improvements. 

“Our benchmarks are designed to complement and strengthen efforts by farmers and livestock producers, and also bridge to actions in grocery stores, restaurants, and homes – all of which are needed to truly achieve our common goals for the people, animals, and climate of tomorrow,” said Potts.