December 10, 2020
Contact: Eric Deeble, Policy Director
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Fair Competition Livestock Rule Fails to Advance Needed Reforms
USDA fails to address major issues with its “undue preference” rule
Washington, DC, December 10th, 2020 – Today, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) released a final rule to attempt to satisfy 2008 Farm Bill requirements to create criteria for determining whether meat packers give undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to one producer over another.
“The rule fails to advance any meaningful reforms to address the abusive and exploitative practices conducted by these corporations for decades,” said Eric Deeble, Policy Director at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “We are counting on the new incoming Biden-Harris Administration and the incoming Secretary of Agriculture to not only rescind the Trump Administration rule, but to also bring back all of the ‘Farmer Fair Practices Rules’ and ensure that those previous rules are improved upon.”
This rulemaking is part of the directive in the 2008 Farm Bill instructing USDA to establish criteria under the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.
AMS made minimal changes to the four criteria in the January 2020 proposed rule. This final rule does not include other important aspects of undue preference, such as harm to competition and retaliation or a farmer’s right to speak out about harmful practices.
The undue preference rule is only a small part of a larger package of proposed rules advanced under the Obama Administration under USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack at the end of 2016, known as the “Farmer Fair Practices Rules”. These rules were strongly supported by contract producers and advocates like NSAC.
“Unfortunately, the final rule issued today does not do enough to prevent integrators from circumventing the purpose of the Packers and Stockyards Act and it fails to restore competition to the market to put our farmers and ranchers on a fair footing,” said Deeble.
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities. Learn more: https://sustainableagriculture.net/