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Proposed Rules For U.S. Meat Industry

The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, which polices the U.S. meat and livestock industry, has proposed new rules designed to help producers compete in the marketplace and to assist the agency in prosecuting violators.

Public comment on these rules concludes on Nov. 22.

Many of the largest U.S. livestock trade organizations are opposed to the rules claiming, in part, they will expose meat packers to lawsuits, will impede or reduce livestock-marketing agreements, and increase operating costs.

Proponents, including farm organizations like R-CALF and National Farmers Union, say the changes will help smaller livestock and poultry producers compete with larger rivals, who often have marketing arrangements with meat companies.

Some key proposals include:

Require meat plants and commercial buyers of livestock and poultry to maintain written records that justify variations in prices offered to producers.

Make it a violation to offer better prices to big producers who can provide larger volumes of livestock than to smaller producers who, collectively, can provide the same number and quality of livestock.

Define unfair and anti-competitive practices so violators can be punished in court. An example would be using inaccurate scales to weigh poultry.

Require commercial livestock buyers to work with only one meat packer.

Prevent a meat packer from buying livestock from another packer.

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