Ranch group recognizes progress but skeptical of White House action plan
BILLINGS, Mont. — Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced an “Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain.” The plan includes massive amounts of government funding intended to slowly rebuild the now dismantled competitive marketing channels for cattle and beef, which has created what the administration calls a “bottleneck” in the nation’s food supply chain.
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said the funding announced in the plan should help increase both the number of marketing channels for America’s cattle farmers and ranchers as well as distribution channels for America’s consumers.
“We recognize that this level of government involvement is unprecedented, and that it’s critical for reversing the decades of inattention, neglect and denial that facilitated the elimination of competition in our U.S. cattle industry,” he said.
But Bullard said his group remains skeptical about the plan’s strategy for addressing decades of nonenforcement of U.S. antitrust laws and the 100-year-old Packers and Stockyards Act.
He said his organization waited for years and by 2019 it was clear the government was disinclined to protect the cattle industry from alleged packer buying practices that R-CALF USA alleged were harming America’s cattle producers in the group’s private antitrust lawsuit filed against the largest packers in April of that year.
“Our nation’s cattle industry is in a serious crisis and while we appreciate the administration’s plans to write rules with which to implement portions of the Packers and Stockyards Act, correct the exploitive “Product of USA” beef label, and increase market transparency by requiring more information, as well as its attempt to identify any new, potential violations of competition laws, the fact remains that the administration has not announced that it will take decisive enforcement action to protect America’s cattle producers from the harms they’ve been experiencing for the past seven years, and we remain disappointed with that omission,” Bullard concluded.
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