To suppress their voice, companies intimidate farmers. At two separate congressional hearings this year, some farmers and ranchers refused to testify due to fears of retaliation. While the public comment period on the first rule is open, a large U.S. chicken company, Mountaire, sends out letters to urge farmers to oppose the new Transparency rule aimed at improving their conditions.
September 2022 — The second new proposed rule under the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act is released: Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity under the Packers and Stockyards Act. USDA proposes this rule to combat discrimination and retaliation against farmers and ranchers and to provide for clearer, more effective standards to govern the modern livestock and poultry marketplace.
May 2022 — The first new proposed rule under the Packers and Stockyards Act is released: Transparency in Poultry Growing Contracts and Tournaments. This rule will make needed improvements to the poultry payment system. It also aims to create a more even playing field for growers, prevent deception and abuse and strengthen the ability of poultry growers to make informed production contract decisions.
January 3, 2022 — At the “White House Roundtable on Promoting Competition and Reducing Prices in the Meat Industry,” President Biden demanded that farmers and ranchers get a “Fair Shake”. That same day, the White House released the Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain. The Action Plan included the development of three proposed rules to provide greater clarity and strengthen enforcement under the Packers and Stockyards Act in order to protect farmers and ranchers from the abuses of meatpackers and processors.
July 9, 2021 — President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) directing federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to act on 72 different policy initiatives to promote fair and competitive markets. In the Executive Order it directs USDA to publish a package of three Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) regulations, to update and complete the work that President Obama started in 2010 through the Farmer Fair Practices rules. Among several demands to improve the industry, the Executive Order calls on USDA to “[adopt], to the greatest extent..Read More
As part of a reorganization at USDA, the Packers and Stockyards Administration was merged with the Federal Grain Inspection Service, creating a new agency: the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). GIPSA continued to hold the authority and responsibility for oversight of livestock and poultry companies, and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.
Farmers and advocates are finally able to hold members of Congress accountable during the 2015 appropriations process, and the budget passes without a GIPSA rider, allowing USDA to finally finish their rulemaking process.
December 10, 2020 — USDA releases a watered-down, single rule, the only one remaining from the original 2010 Farmer Fair Practice Rules that the Trump Administration did not discard. This rule has been widely criticized for being too weak to ensure enforcement of the PSA, and failing to address farmer and rancher concerns that have been voiced for decades.
In 2017, at the same time the Farmer Fair Practice Rules are permanently discarded, GIPSA gets a demotion. The new Trump Administration moves oversight of the powerful meat and chicken companies from having a self-standing agency within USDA, to being buried within the Agricultural Marketing Service. Essentially, GIPSA was moved to a branch of USDA that normally collaborates with companies, and does not normally conduct oversight of companies. This move signals a retreat from the decades-long effort to ensure that farmers and ranchers are justly protected by the PSA.
Shortly after stepping into office, Sonny Perdue and the Trump Administration permanently discard the Farmer Fair Practice Rules, before they ever make it into law.