In this file:
· Reexamining the Packers & Stockyards Act: Recent Congressional and USDA Attention on the Livestock Industry
· Executive Order Strengthens the Century Old Packers and Stockyards Act
· Congressman urges caution on Packers and Stockyards Act rewrite
· Booker's Boondoggle
Reexamining the Packers & Stockyards Act: Recent Congressional and USDA Attention on the Livestock Industry
Kristi Boswell and Samuel Jockel, Alston & Bird
via JDSupra - July 15, 2021
What’s next for processors, producers, ranchers, and other stakeholders in the livestock industry? Our Food, Beverage & Agribusiness Team provides insights into the recent announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture about upcoming proposed rules under the Packers & Stockyards Act and a recent congressional hearing on examining the state of cattle markets.
o Packers & Stockyards Act
o Congressional committee hearing on the current state of the livestock market
o Regulatory and legislative horizon
Congress passed the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act in 1921 to ensure competition and integrity in the livestock, meat, and poultry farming markets. The P&S Act was enacted in response to concerns about the “Big Five” meatpackers of the time and sought to strengthen enforcement in the sector. One hundred years later, as part of the issuance of its July 9, 2021 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy, the White House has reported that four companies dominate 80% of the beef market today.
On June 23, 2021, the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry Committee conducted a hearing in response to concerns of cattle producers and other interested stakeholders about the “Big Four” processing plants. As the title of the hearing—“Examining Markets, Transparency, and Prices from Cattle Producer to Consumer”—suggests, some cattle producers are concerned about the lack of transparency and competition within cattle markets. Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also noted that farmers and ranchers were concerned with “concentration in the packing industry, potential market manipulation, [and] lack of access to small- and mid-size plants.” The USDA has also signaled that it plans to work on three proposed rules to strengthen enforcement under the P&S Act—proposals that the White House has encouraged the USDA to act on as underlined in the Executive Order.
Why the Focus Now? ...
USDA Developments ...
Legislative Agenda – Congressional Scrutiny ...
Regulatory and Legislative Horizon ...
Executive Order Strengthens the Century Old Packers and Stockyards Act
Jennifer Lewerenz, KNSI (MN)
Jul 15, 2021
Saint Cloud, MN, USA / (KNSI) – Cattle farmers asking for a fair shake when it comes to market share are getting a boost from the federal government due to a new executive order.
As part of strengthening the enforcement of the 100 year old Packers and Stockyards Act, Minnesota Democratic Senator Tina Smith and Republican Senator Mike Rounds from South Dakota contacted the United States Justice Department and asked them to look into whether large meat processors are violating anti-trust laws and principles of fair competition. Smith says that four large meat processors control roughly 80% of beef processing in the country. That means most farmers make pennies on the dollar for their beef and consumers are left holding the bag paying higher prices for beef products at the store.
The order invests money from the American Rescue Plan Act for the United States Department of Agriculture to create new rules to make it easier for farmers to fight back against big processors.
One rule, among other things, provides better clarity to strengthen enforcement of unfair and deceptive practices like stiffer regulations on the Made in the USA label. Under the old rule, animals can be reared overseas, processed minimally in the U.S., and still get the label. Senator Smith applauded the move and called it an important step, saying, “We need to make it clear that if a product is labled ‘product of the USA’, that consumers know what that means. That they know where their food is coming from. That way, consumers can make the best decisions about what kind of meat they want to buy.”
Smith says the new rules will benefit smaller producers and help them grow. She says what she hears from smaller processors is that they’re overwhelmed…
Congressman urges caution on Packers and Stockyards Act rewrite
By Will Robinson, Brownfield
July 15, 2021
The Republican leader of the House Ag Committee is urging the Biden administration to be cautious when looking at rewriting parts of the Packers and Stockyards Act rule.
Glenn GT Thompson said there’s a lot of complexities and moving parts within the livestock industry.
“We need to be taking a look at that, we need to learn from it,” he said. “I’m usually cautious about government overreach because when government gets involved, there’s unintended consequences that can corrupt entire systems.”
Biden’s executive order directs USDA to consider issuing new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act that would make it easier for farmers to bring and win claims against packers, prevent chicken processors from underpaying chicken farmers, and adopt anti-retaliation protections for farmers who speak out.
Thompson tells Brownfield everyone needs to be at the table...
By Greg Henderson, Opinion, Drovers
July 15, 2021
To hear Sen. Cory Booker tell it, the Farm Systems Reform Act (FSRA) would “create a level playing field for independent family farmers” and “transform the broken system built by multi-national meatpacking companies.”
Specifically, FSRA would “strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act,” prohibit the use of a tournament or ranking system for paying contract poultry growers, and “require country of origin labeling (COOL) on beef, pork, and dairy products, and for other purposes.” Those are the populist notes Booker needed to hit to gather endorsements from a herd of more than 90 NGAs, ranging from Mercy for Animals, Farm Sanctuary and Earthjustice to the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, and even The Alliance of Baptists. Whew.
We can agree the P&SA and COOL provisions have legitimate supporters and detractors. But, Booker (and California Rep. Ro Khanna, who introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives) seem intent on poisoning the proposal with a pair of non-starters: 1) A moratorium on large, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO); 2) Authorizing $100 billion over 10 years to buyout CAFOs and cover transition costs for alternative agriculture activities such as raising pasture-based livestock.
Yep, Booker proposes to legislate an end to all “factory farms” (his term) by Jan. 1, 2040. For cattle, Booker sets a size limit of 1,000 head for operations that exist beyond 2040. If that sounds like it was written by a vegan it’s because it was – Booker has been vegan since election day 2014. While FSRA seeks to drive feedyards out of business, Booker’s plan would soften the blow with a government buyout that would help transition those operations to grass-fed beef.
The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association quickly responded to FSRA...
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