Cattle Producers Applaud President’s Pro-Competition Order

Agriculture Livestock Grazing

Billings, Mont. – R-CALF USA, the largest national cattle trade association that exclusively represents United States cattle producers, applauded the Executive Order (Order) signed today by President Joe Biden to aggressively restore market competition for the benefit of livestock producers, consumers, and small businesses.

“We’ve urged Administration after Administration for the past 20 years to begin proper enforcement of both antitrust laws and the 100-year-old Packers and Stockyards Act and this is the first Administration to actually take action,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.

The Order calls for full enforcement of antitrust laws to confront corporate power. Among its 72 initiatives are specific provisions that address the U.S. cattle market, which Bullard says is among the most concentrated markets in the U.S. economy.

According to Bullard, of particular interest to cattle producers are provisions directing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promulgate rules to fully deploy the P&S Act, in part by specifying packer conduct that would violate the act’s prohibitions again unfair, deceptive, and unjustly discriminatory practices. He says it also directs USDA to write rules to clarify that individual livestock producers do not, in every case, have to prove injury to competition in order to seek protections under the P&S Act.

Bullard says it is precisely because these two pro-competition rules have never been implemented that the P&S Act has been a toothless tiger – completely ineffective in preventing the concentrated meatpackers from purging competition from the U.S. cattle market.

“If these rules are brought to fruition, they will go a long way toward rebalancing the disparate market power between the highly concentrated beef packers and the widely disaggregated independent cattle feeders, backgrounders, stockers and cow/calf producers,” he said.

The Order also directs the USDA to address the current misuse of the “Product of the USA” label that is currently allowed on foreign beef products.

“We look forward to working with the Administration on this important issue to ensure that when Congress reinstates mandatory country of origin labeling (mCOOL) for all beef sold in America, both the federal rules and the federal statute complement each other.

“We’re both pleased and excited about the opportunity to work with this Administration to accomplish what every cattle producer needs to be successful – a robustly competitive marketplace free from abusive market power,” Bullard concluded.

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