Livestock farmers in the United States are poised to gain a clearer path to filing antitrust complaints against meatpacking companies accused of unfair business practices, thanks to a new rule proposed by the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) on Tuesday.

The proposed rule is the fourth initiative by the Biden administration aimed at increasing competition in the highly consolidated meatpacking industry, according to Reuters. Previous rules introduced by the administration have focused on ensuring fairer pay for chicken farmers, enhancing transparency in poultry contracts, and prohibiting retaliation against farmers who raise concerns about anti-competitive behavior.

The rule introduced on Tuesday is designed to clarify the process for farmers and ranchers to prove they have been harmed by the alleged anti-competitive actions of meatpackers. It also aims to enhance the USDA’s ability to enforce antitrust laws, according to a press release from the agency.

“Entrenched market power and the abuses that flow from it remain an obstacle to achieving lower prices for consumers and fairer practices for producers,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement reported by Reuters. “Today’s proposed rule stands for clear, transparent standards so that markets function fairly and competitively for consumers and producers alike.”

Farmers have long argued that the current regulations set an excessively high bar for proving harm from anti-competitive behavior, which hinders their ability to seek antitrust recourse from the USDA. The new rule aims to lower this bar and provide farmers with the certainty they have long sought.

“Farmers have long deserved this certainty,” said Sarah Carden, research and policy development director for Farm Action, a farmer advocacy group.

The proposed rule will be open to public comment for 60 days, allowing stakeholders to provide input before it is potentially finalized.

Source: CA News Yahoo



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