off act

Final Rule Makes Adjustments to Packers and Stockyards Act

Brian German Dairy & Livestock, Dairy and Livestock, Industry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has unveiled a new final rule under the Packers and Stockyards Act. It is aimed at fostering fair competition and protecting growers from discrimination, retaliation, and deceptive practices in contract farming. Effective 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, the rule establishes clearer standards to prevent unfair treatment in livestock and poultry markets. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack emphasized the administration’s commitment to building more equitable and competitive markets for farmers, ranchers, and producers. The rule prohibits adverse treatment based on various factors like race, gender, and age, and safeguards growers engaging in protected activities from retaliation. It also bans false or misleading statements in contract formation and supports USDA monitoring and enforcement.

Packers and Stockyards Act

This move is part of President Biden’s broader efforts to promote competition in agricultural markets and ensure fair treatment for small- and mid-size farmers. While industry stakeholders like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition applauded the rule for protecting producers’ rights, others like the North American Meat Institute criticized it, arguing that it grants excessive federal authority and could impede competition. However, organizations like the National Farmers Union welcomed the rule, highlighting its importance in empowering family farmers and ranchers against unfair practices. NFU President Rob Larew praised USDA’s commitment to market fairness and thanked Secretary Vilsack for prioritizing updates to the Packers and Stockyards Act.

USDA notes that the final rule marks a significant step towards creating a more level playing field in agricultural markets, addressing long-standing concerns about discrimination and unfair treatment. As the USDA continues its efforts to revitalize the Packers and Stockyards Act, stakeholders remain divided on the potential impact of regulatory changes. However, the overarching goal remains clear: to ensure that all producers have equitable access to economic opportunities and fair treatment in contract farming, fostering a more resilient and competitive agricultural sector for the future.

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West