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USDA Releases Proposed Rule to Reform Poultry Tournament System and Announces Further Meat Processing Investment

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today released a proposed rule to establish greater transparency in poultry growing contracts and tournaments. This is the first of three proposed rules to strengthen enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act). USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack also announced $225 million in additional investment towards expanding competition in the meat processing sector and workforce training.  

National Farmers Union (NFU) is a staunch advocate for poultry grower protections and a diversified, resilient meat processing sector and is pleased by today’s release.    

“Poultry growers have endured an unfair contracting system for far too long, and all livestock producers continue to face heavily concentrated markets with insufficient protections from anti-competitive practices. We are glad that the first in a series of promised rules is being introduced,” said NFU President Rob Larew. “This rule will ensure poultry growers have a fair marketplace, free from retaliation. We will review the proposed rule and share further recommendations with USDA to help ensure the final rule provides the protections poultry growers deserve. We are also glad to see USDA’s continued commitment to growing independent meat processing capacity and training the workforce in the meat processing sector.” 

USDA intends to introduce two more rules that would strengthen enforcement of the prohibition on unfair and deceptive practices and clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition in an entire industry to bring claims under key sections of the P&S Act. 

“The proposed rules, taken together, will be an important improvement for the livestock and poultry industries. Producers and consumers benefit when markets are competitive and when farmers and ranchers are treated fairly. Today’s announcement from USDA is another big step towards ensuring Fairness for Farmers, and we look forward to reviewing all the forthcoming P&S Act rules,” Larew concluded.   

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