Let livestock invest in packing plants

Legislative Watch: Expanding Local Meat Processing Act; Representatives want update on DOJ cattle investigation; Congress in recess until after Labor Day.

P. Scott Shearer, Vice President

August 19, 2022

2 Min Read
Bone-in Ribeye Chops.jpg
National Pork Board

The "Expanding Local Meat Processing Act" introduced by Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) would allow livestock auction market owners to invest in small meat processing operations. 

The Packers and Stockyards Act prohibits auction markets from owning, investing in, managing or operating a packing plant or meat marketing business. 

Senator Ernst said, "It should be a no-brainer to cut bureaucratic red-tape, eliminate outdated regulations that are hindering the livestock industry, and increase processing capacity. Allowing livestock auction owners to invest in local and regional meat packers will expedite the safe processing of meat, increase competition within the industry, and, ultimately, lower meat costs for consumers."

The legislation is supported by the Livestock Marketing Association, National Cattlemen's Beef Association and U.S. Cattlemen's Association. 

Representatives want update on DOJ cattle investigation
Representative Cindy Axne (D-IA) and other House members are asking for an update from the Department of Justice on the status of its investigation into allegations of market manipulation by the nation's four largest beef processors.

The Members in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland said, "It has been over two years since the DOJ reportedly first sent civil investigative demands (CIDs) to the companies, yet there has been no public update on the status of the investigation. With prices at the grocery store soaring, the American public deserves to know of any wrongdoing in the meatpacking industries, have confidence in the marketplace, and assurances that the laws on the books will be properly enforced.

"It is absolutely imperative that consumers and producers can have faith in the cattle industry. While there are additional legislative solutions that should be pursued, the DOJ plays a vital role in protecting the interest of the public through enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards, Sherman, and Clayton Acts. A fair and thorough investigation must be conducted, but the lack of communication or acknowledgment of the investigation is causing concern and further casting doubt on the integrity of the markets."

Letters have been send to the DOJ from 11 state attorneys general and 19 Members of Congress asking the DOJ to investigate the cattle industry, especially price fixing by the four largest beef processors.

Congress in recess until after Labor Day
Congress is in recess until the second week of September. A key issue when Congress returns is the fiscal year 2023 appropriations bills. It being an election year, Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution before the end of the fiscal year (Sept. 30) to keep the federal government running.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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