Vilsack: meat and poultry market competition rules being reviewed at USDA

At least four different rules addressing market competition in meat and poultry production are being considered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told members of the National Farmers Union during its annual convention the updated Packers and Stockyards Act, a rule defining fair competition and trade practices, is in its final stages of approval.

“The comment period is over and we’re in the process of analyzing those comments. We expect that rule to be finalized in calendar year 2023.”

He says a separate rule banning companies from taking retaliatory actions against producers reporting unfair practices should be finalized by the end of the calendar year. There’s also a new, poultry rule in the works.

“It begins to address some of the concerns about that system. That rule is in the process of being worked on. It’s a new concept. When we first started this process, we weren’t thinking about this, but based on the comments we got we thought we should do that.”

Vilsack says the new rule should be available for comment sometime this year and is expected to be completed by 2024.

By the end of this year, the SCOPE rule, a rule adjusting production standards for poultry growers, will be updated. Vilsack says it’s complicated.

“It has to do with whether or not there’s the need to establish the fact that the entire industry has been affected by a certain process and practice from a competition standpoint or whether it be an individual farmer that’s been hurt to bring a Packers and Stockyards case.”

These rules are being updated or created in response to President Joe Biden’s executive order issued two years ago to create a plan to support fair and competitive agricultural markets.

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