IFB applauds effort to strengthen Packers and Stockyards Act

By Ashley Rice

Illinois Farm Bureau supports USDA's plans to strengthen enforcement of the 100-year-old Packers and Stockyards Act.

"Our policy has called for increased authority and improvements in the Act, including enforcement and price transparency, for several years," said Tasha Bunting, IFB's associate director of commodities and livestock programs. "We look forward to conversations addressing these issues to ensure any proposed changes will positively impact livestock producers throughout the state."

The Packers and Stockyards Act, which dates back to 1921, was designed to protect poultry, hog and cattle producers from unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive practices in the meat market. Those engaged in the business of marketing livestock, meat, and poultry in commerce are subject to the Act and its regulations.

In the coming months, the USDA announced it intends to take the following three steps:

  • Propose a new rule that will provide greater clarity to strengthen enforcement of unfair and deceptive practices, undue preferences, and unjust prejudices;
  • Propose a new poultry grower tournament system rule, with the current inactive proposal to be withdrawn; and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 in order to bring an action under two sections of the Act.

“The pandemic and other recent events have revealed how concentration can take a painful toll on independent farmers and ranchers, while exposing working family consumers to higher prices and uncertain output,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA secretary. “The Packers and Stockyards Act is a vital tool for protecting farmers and ranchers from excessive concentration and unfair, deceptive practices in the poultry, hog, and cattle markets, but the law is 100 years old and needs to take into account modern market dynamics. It should not be used as a safe harbor for bad actors. The process we’re beginning today will seek to strengthen the fairness and resiliency of livestock markets on behalf of farmers, ranchers and growers.”

This story was provided by FarmWeekNow.com.