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New rules proposed to strengthen enforcement of 100 year old law

WASHINGTON, DC – USDA has announced it will begin work on three proposed rules to support enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, the 100-year-old law that was originally designed to protect  cattle, hog and poultry producers from unfair, deceptive, and anticompetitive practices in the meat markets.

USDA says it intends to propose a new rule that will provide greater clarity to strengthen enforcement of unfair practices, propose a new poultry grower tournament system rule, and will re-propose a rule to clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition to bring an action under section 202a and 202b of the act.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the pandemic and other recent events have revealed how concentration can take a painful toll on independent ranchers and farmers, while exposing working family consumers to higher prices and uncertain food supplies. He says the Packers and Stockyards Act is a vital tool for protecting ranchers and farmers from excessive concentration and unfair practices.

“The Packers and Stockyards Act is a vital tool for protecting ranchers and farmers from excessive concentration and unfair, deceptive practices in the cattle, hog, and poultry markets, but the law is 100 years old and needs to take into account modern market dynamics.”

He continued, “It should not be used as a safe harbor for bad actors. The process we’re beginning will seek to strengthen the fairness and resiliency of livestock markets on behalf of ranchers, farmers and growers.”

The agency says its planned Packers and Stockyards Act proposals will support USDA’s efforts to ensure fairer and more resilient markets saying in the last five years, stresses and disruptions caused by concentration in livestock markets have impacted not only producers, but consumers as well.

USDA is working to make meaningful investments and improvement to build back a better food system that is fair and equitable, more resilient against shocks, delivers greater value to growers and workers, and offers consumers an affordable selection of healthy, affordable food produced and sourced locally and regionally.

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