Today, President Biden convened a roundtable with farmers, ranchers, an independent poultry processor and members of his cabinet to discuss the need for more competition in beef, pork and poultry and to announce the administration’s action plan for a fairer, more competitive, and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain. President, Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Garland explained the administration’s actions to increase processing options for farmers and ranchers, create fairer and more competitive markets, lower prices for consumers and ensure that farmers and ranchers get a fair price for their product.
The president highlighted the strength of the economy to 2022 and explained that under his July executive order on promoting competition in the US economy, the administration has focused on combating lack of competition in agricultural markets. He explained that only a small handful of companies control the majority of the beef, pork and poultry markets, allowing them to squeeze farmers and ranchers while raising prices for consumers. He also thanked bipartisan members of Congress working together on legislation to increase transparency in the livestock market.
Secretary Vilsack provided details of the administration’s $ 1 billion investment in US bailout funds to finance and support independent transformation projects that will provide farmers and ranchers with more options and better. He further described the Department of Agriculture’s commitment to work in concert with the Department of Justice and other enforcement agencies, including new regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act, and new rules to protect consumers from confusion as to whether products labeled “Product of USA” are really made here at home.
Attorney General Garland spoke of the Department of Justice’s commitment to increasing competition between industries, including agriculture, and to enforcing federal laws in a robust and vigorous manner. He described a new joint initiative with the Department of Agriculture to better coordinate the federal law enforcement efforts of the two agencies, including the launch of a new joint portal within 30 days where farmers and ranchers can raise concerns about potential violations of the Clayton, Sherman Act. , or The Slaughterhouses and Stockyards Act. Garland also described the ministry’s commitment to supporting the strictest protections possible for whistleblowers.
Roundtable participants described the impact of the lack of competition in the meat and poultry supply chain on their businesses and their lives, as well as the challenges they face because a few large companies dominate the markets. processing markets. Farmers and ranchers explained that they are often at the mercy of a small number of buyers who determine the price they receive, and that although these conglomerates raise prices in grocery stores, they lower prices. for farmers and ranchers, which takes away their wealth. rural communities and harm consumers.
The independent poultry processor also described the dominant model of poultry production in which large integrated companies dictate the terms of restrictive contracts that leave producers little control over their own operations and burden them with debt, and how support for Alternative business models and market structures can serve consumers, workers and producers.
Participants explained the start-up costs and challenges of independent processing and marketing, and how USDA funding to support the food supply chain will help independent processing operations start, grow and grow. , while creating more competition and options for producers and consumers.
Attorney General Garland urged participants, farmers and ranchers to use the new joint web portal to confidentially share any anti-competitive practices and actions they have faced. President Biden closed the meeting by reiterating the administration’s whole-of-government commitment to tackle competition concerns across all sectors. He thanked the participants for their hard work and comments.
Click here to read the full backgrounder on the administration’s action plan for a fairer, more competitive and more resilient meat and poultry supply chain, and click here to learn more about the others initiatives of the Biden-Harris administration to stimulate competition in the economy.
Today’s meeting participants included:
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Attorney General Merrick Garland
Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese
Scott Blubaugh, President, Oklahoma Farmers Union
Kelsey Ducheneaux-Scott, Director of Programs, Intertribal Agricultural Council
Corwin Heatwole, CEO, Farmer Focus
Brent Johnson, President, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation
Handy Kennedy, Jr., Owner, HK Farms