Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

USDA Proposes Updates to Packers and Stockyards Act

News / Newsline June 15, 2021

Credit: AFBFA 

Changes could be in store for the Packers and Stockyards Act. Chad Smith has more on what the USDA’s recent announcement might mean for agriculture.

Smith: The USDA says it’s working on three proposed rules to support enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. American Farm Bureau Federation economist Michael Nepveux talks about what the changes will mean for U.S. ag.

Nepveux: USDA has announced that these three proposed rules are going to move forward, so first, USDA is proposing a new rule that will provide greater clarity to strengthen the enforcement of unfair and deceptive practices, undue preferences, and unjust prejudices. Second, USDA is going to propose a new poultry grower tournament system rule, and they're going to withdraw the current inactive proposal. Thirdly, USDA is going to re-propose a rule that would clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition in order to bring an action under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Smith: Nepveux says the American Farm Bureau already supports two bills related to the cattle industry that are currently before Congress.

Nepveux: The first is the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021. This is in the Senate and originally it came through from Senator Fischer out of Nebraska. And then, more recently, it was announced The Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021, kind of a sister, companion bill in the House. It’s a little different, there are some minor differences between them. So, they're not exactly the same, but both aligned with AFBF policy and AFBF does support both of those bills.

Smith: If they’re passed into law, Nepveux says they would help livestock producers.

Nepveux: The bills do require that USDA institute a mandatory minimum level of negotiated cash trade for cattle. From AFBF perspective, it's very important that that is done on a regional basis, if you are going to have any kind of mandate. Other aspects in the bills that AFBF considers helpful is that one is going to look into establishing a contract library, which would help producers have a better understanding of what kind of contracts are out there, and they’d have more information in negotiating their own contract with packers as well.

Smith: Chad Smith, Washington.

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A recent meeting between American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall and a delegation of officials from Mexico included talk about trade and a variety of other topics. Chad Smith has more on the meeting.

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Credit: AFBF Photo/Philip Gerlach 

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