Issue Overview

The Packers and Stockyards Act was enacted in 1921 and prohibits unfair, deceptive, and unjust discriminatory practices by market agencies, dealers, stockyards, packers, swine contractors, and live poultry dealers in the livestock and poultry industries.

The 2008 farm bill instructed the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration to create rules and definitions providing additional protections for livestock and poultry producers against unfair practices and addressing new market conditions not covered by existing rules. In 2010, GIPSA released a proposed rule with the goal of ensuring a level playing field for livestock and poultry producers; a final rule was issued in late 2011 with significant revisions. Additionally, several annual agriculture appropriations bills have included riders which subsequently prohibited GIPSA from continuing the rule’s promulgation on certain contentious protections for growers. In FY 2016 the Ag Appropriations bill did not include riders prohibiting GIPSA from working on the rule. In December of 2016, USDA released Farmer’s Fair Practices Rules which included one interim final rule and two proposed rules. These rules as with previous versions were very controversial. The interim final rule and one of the proposed rules that spoke to all livestock industries under Packers and Stockyards Act will not move forward. At this time the agency is still considering the proposed rule “Poultry Grower Ranking Systems,” which focuses on the broiler industry.

Farm Bureau has long advocated for remedies that provide fairness for chicken farmers, while maintaining provisions that keep hog and cattle markets flexible and competitive.