Biden administration to strengthen rules under Packers and Stockyards Act


Biden administration to strengthen rules under Packers and Stockyards Act

The Biden administration says it will issue new, stronger rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Bharat Ramamurti is deputy director of the National Economic Council.

“That’s a law that was passed more than 100 years ago and is intended protect farmers and ranchers from unfair, deceptive practices and protect them from retaliatory behavior from the big meat processors,” he says.

He tells Brownfield “The U.S. Department of Agriculture is contemplating a few different rules under the authority in the Packers and Stockyards Act, the first one of which they’re anticipating will be out early this year and the others will follow a little bit later this year,” he says. “Our hope is that by the end of this year all three of those rules will be finalized.”

Today, the administration also announced a joint initiative between the Department of Justice and USDA.

Attorney General Merrick Garland says “this will include the launch of a centralized and accessible portal, a one stop shop, to report complaints of potential violations of our competition laws including the Sherman and Clayton Antitrust Act as well as the Packers and Stockyards Act,” he says. “The joint channel that we’re establishing will allow USDA and DOJ to collaborate early on, on how to appropriately address such complaints.”

The USDA has been working to propose a new rule that will provide greater clarity to strengthen enforcement of unfair practices; propose a new poultry grower tournament system rule, with the current inactive proposal to be withdrawn; and re-propose a rule to clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition to bring an action under section 202 (a) and 202 (b) of the Packers and Stockyards Act.  

The administration says the USDA is also working with the Federal Trade Commission to prepare a report on access to retail and competition’s role in protecting new market entrants in meat processing.