FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2021
Contact: Hannah Packman, 202.554.1600
WASHINGTON – Following multiple allegations and indictments of price fixing and other anticompetitive practices in the livestock sector, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today indicated its intention to propose a series of rules that would offer family famers and contract poultry growers greater agency and recourse in their relationships with corporations.
The rules would amend regulations related to the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 which are meant “to assure fair competition and fair trade practices. . . and to protect members of the livestock, meat, and poultry industries from unfair, deceptive, unjustly discriminatory and monopolistic practices,” but lack the teeth to achieve those objectives. As a remedy, the rules would provide farmers stronger legal protections against unfair treatment as well as restructure the inequitable system that determines poultry growers’ wages.
Since it was founded nearly 120 years ago, National Farmers Union (NFU) has advocated mechanisms that prevent anticompetitive practices among corporations as well as stronger protections for farmers from those practices. In a statement today, NFU President Rob Larew welcomed the announcement; after the rules are proposed, the organization will provide additional feedback to USDA.
“Shielding farmers from corporate abuse was one of National Farmers Union’s main objectives when it was established in 1902. After decades of lax antitrust enforcement, farmers are once again subject to many of the same injustices that their ancestors endured; in just the last year, essentially every category of livestock has been accused of manipulating prices and defrauding farmers.
“In its announcement earlier this week about strengthening the food system, USDA identified the need to address the unfair treatment that many farmers and ranchers face in the marketplace – and the publication of the these planned administrative actions are a strong step in the right direction. We commend USDA for proposing meaningful reforms and look forward to providing additional feedback in the coming weeks and months.”
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.