White House announces plan to support fair and competitive meat and poultry markets
By: Sydney Sheffield
During a meeting of the White House Competition Council, President Joe Biden introduced new efforts by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support fair and competitive meat and poultry markets. The Proposed Rule on Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity and Agricultural Competition Challenge to the State Attorneys General are said to protect livestock producers.
“Highly concentrated local markets in livestock and poultry have increasingly left farmers, ranchers, growers, and producers vulnerable to a range of practices that unjustly exclude them from economic opportunities and undermine a transparent, competitive, and open market—which harms producers’ ability to deliver the quality, affordable food working families depend upon,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who is a member of the White House Competition Council. “USDA is focused on building new, fairer, and more resilient markets, protecting producers, and reducing food costs, and we are proving again today that we will use all tools at our disposal to do so.”
The Proposed Rule on Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity would update regulations under the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act’s provisions by prohibiting certain prejudices and disadvantages against covered producers in the livestock, meat, and poultry markets.
The regulations would prohibit retaliatory practices that interfere with lawful communications, the assertion of rights, and participation in associations, among other protected activities. Also, the rule proposes recordkeeping requirements to support the evaluation of regulated entity compliance, including the ability to inspect relevant records.
The Agricultural Competition Challenge to the State Attorneys General would increase enforcement of the competition laws by challenging the state attorneys general to partner with USDA on competition issues in the food and agriculture space, using up to $15 million in funds from the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA).
The goal is for this initiative to improve the state attorney general’s capacity to conduct on-the-ground investigations of competition issues, enhance coordination between Federal and state agriculture and competition enforcement authorities, create new and more independent research programs, and ultimately result in more rigorous enforcement of the competition laws.
Earlier this year, USDA and the Department of Justice announced the Farmer Fairness program, to help ensure fair and competitive livestock and poultry markets. The two announced initiatives seek to further the assistance available for farmers.