New Livestock and Poultry Competition Rules Published

Jan 14, 2020

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Today the Federal Register published a proposed rule by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to satisfy provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill intended to establish criteria by which the Secretary of Agriculture would determine whether meatpackers give undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to one producer over another.
While the rule does establish some criteria that could be beneficial to farmers and ranchers, the language of the rule is vague and leaves any benefits vulnerable to adequate interpretation and enforcement. Under this proposed rule, practices may be deemed a “reasonable business decision” if they are utilized throughout the industry, regardless of the deleterious outcomes to farm families. The proposed rule’s criteria are based on business considerations which make allowances for practices “that would be customary within the industry.” 
This proposed rule is the latest iteration of regulations that have been the focus of a decades-long battle for farmer protections in the face of ever-increasing corporate consolidation and power. As farmers and ranchers have stated time and again, the livestock and poultry industries are rife with abusive and exploitative practices. In its current version, this rule not only allows for “undue or unreasonable” industry practices, but codifies the justification of them in law. 
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