Livestock Regulations Upset Meatpackers

The Obama administration has upset large-scale agribusinesses and meatpackers with a series of new livestock regulations. The administration and the USDA are suggesting a series of new regulations that would limit the power and influence of major meatpackers like Tyson and Cargill and would limit their ability to control prices.

Some of the proposed rules include limitations on packers’ abilities to pay some producers more than others, requiring posting sample contracts, requiring packers to justify price premiums and discounts. Other rules would make it easier for producers to sue packers, while others would limit packers’ ability to manipulate livestock prices.

Large-scale meatpackers oppose these regulations, arguing are potentially far-reaching and could significantly damage the meatpacking industry, bringing it to a halt. They also imply that these regulations could destroy the industry’s marketing structure. “These rules are so vague and so undefined that no one knows where to go with them,” said Sam Carney, the president of the National Pork Producers Council.

Defenders of the proposed regulations argue that the meatpacking industry’s concerns are overblown and citing the need for a fair meatpacking industry. “If we’re serious about keeping farmers in business, then we need to get serious about creating a market that is transparent and fair,” said Edward Avalos, the USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

Meanwhile, the USDA is defending itself against allegations that it overstepped its legal authority, as Congressmen claim that these regulations are an end-run around Congress.

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