USDA Won't Implement Tougher Meatpacker Rules

Oct 18, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture won’t go forward with rules meant to make it easier for small livestock producers to report possible unfair treatment.

The agency’s decision on the proposal, which came at the tail end of the Obama administration, was announced Tuesday and met with mixed response.

One of the proposals aimed to give small livestock farmers a larger platform to call out what they saw as mistreatment by large meatpacking companies that buy their animals. Belvidere, South Dakota, cattle farmer Kenny Fox says unfair treatment is a common occurrence.

“Small producers, most the time, they won’t even contest it because they can’t win,” he tells Harvest Public Media. “And so they just get taken advantage of.”

But several major livestock organizations and the American Farm Bureau Federation applauded the USDA’s decision not to implement the rules for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

“We were concerned about the lawsuits that might be frivolous as a result of this,” Farm Bureau economist Katelyn McCullock says “and what kind of precedence might be set.”

When the rule was put forward in December, NPR’s Dan Charles reported that some small farmers were hopeful. And Harvest Public Media’s Grant Gerlock talked with meat companies and farmers for a story published in May.

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