Usda

House Judiciary Committee Members Ask USDA To Empower Small Ranchers and Meat Processors

Anti-competitive regulations have made Americans far too reliant on mega meat processors. It's time to level the playing field.

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Six Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee have asked Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue to relax U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforcement of some meat inspection rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has sickened and killed employees and USDA inspectors who work inside some of the largest U.S. meat processing plants.

In a letter last week, ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan (R–Ohio) and Reps. James Sensenbrenner (R–Wisc.), Ken Buck (R–Colo.), Matt Gaetz (R–Fla.), Kelly Armstrong (R–N.D.), and Gregory Steube (R–Fla.), ask Purdue to "revisit burdensome regulations that create barriers to entry and lessen competition in the nation's meat processing industry." It asks Purdue to take steps to bolster small ranchers and farmers and improve the resiliency of the meat supply by creating a more just playing field for small producers. 

As Progressive Farmer reports, the letter asks the agency to allow smaller facilities flexibility with their HACCP plans, which are intended to establish a proactive approach to preventing foodborne illness but which often skew in favor of larger producers. The letter also asks the agency to facilitate interstate shipments of meat from state-inspected facilities, cover inspector overtime payments, and streamline some labeling rules. I'm pleased and honored to report that around 20 percent of the citations in the letter reference my own writings here and elsewhere.

The lawmakers' appeal to Purdue comes at an extraordinary time for America's food system. Many of the nation's largest meat processors have been crippled by COVID-19 outbreaks in their plants. Because of massive industry consolidation, Americans get most of our meat from just a few sources.

"There are more than 800 federally inspected slaughterhouses in the United States, according to recent USDA data," I write in my 2016 book Biting the Hands that Feed Us. "The thirteen largest U.S. cattle slaughterhouses account for 56 percent of all cattle killed in this country. The figures are similar for hogs (twelve plants account for 57 percent of all slaughters) and other livestock."

Many of these big plants have been forced to close temporarily or to curtail operations, leading to supply shortages. (This week, a USA Today report, part of an ongoing investigation into meat processing by the paper, raised questions about whether the domestic meat supply was ever in jeopardy of failing to keep up with demand during the pandemic.)

Adding to the pressure on the meat industry, the Trump administration has launched an investigation into allegations of monopolistic practices by those same large processors. In March, even before the pandemic ripped through U.S. meat plants, several Members of Congress wrote to Purdue asking him to amend a proposed rule intended to address "unreasonable, retaliatory, and predatory practices within the [meatpacking] industry." While the government investigates allegations of price-fixing and other potential antitrust violations by the nation's largest meat processors, a proposed class-action lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Minneapolis has lobbed similar claims against those and other parties.

Though it's far too early to be sure, it's not unreasonable to predict the federal investigation, Minnesota lawsuit, calls by some politicians to break up big meat processors, ongoing economic distress and uncertainty, or some combination of these factors could further limit the capacity of the largest processors in the years to come.

That drives home the importance of this month's letter to Purdue. We've seen what happens when the largest processors can't operate at capacity. Our laws and regulations should anticipate similar challenges in the future and embrace rules that strengthen smaller producers and let them grow to meet demand.

Still, though the letter is welcome, even if the USDA were to adopt its recommendations, there are several other concrete steps the agency—or Congress—could take to create real and lasting change in the way meat is regulated and sold in this country. Chief among those needed reforms is the PRIME Act, which would return to the states the power to regulate meat processing and sales within their borders, a power over intrastate commerce they've not had since—as I explained here—Congress wrested it away unconstitutionally more than 50 years ago.

Given the challenges the meat industry has faced over the past several months, the need to improve the way meat processors of all sizes are regulated is more obvious and more important than at any point in our lifetimes. The GOP House Judiciary Committee letter to USDA Purdue is just the latest data point to drive home that fact.

NEXT: The Double Lives Hidden in the Census

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  1. Though it’s far too early to be sure, it’s not unreasonable to predict the federal investigation, Minnesota lawsuit, calls by some politicians to break up big meat processors, ongoing economic distress and uncertainty, or some combination of these factors could further limit the capacity of the largest processors in the years to come.

    Though it’s far too early to be sure, it’s not unreasonable to predict Democrat/Socialist “victories” would be an additional factor, one that could *extremely* limit capacity.

    1. Serious question from non-lawyer, non-political scientist type…Why does Congress have to request anything of an Executive Branch department? Didn’t Congress, at some point, create the USDA? Why bother with elected representatives of the People if those representatives just cede decision making to unelected administrators? Rule by expert technocrats seems to be an end-run around a representative republic.

      1. Why bother with elected representatives of the People if those representatives just cede decision making to unelected administrators?

        “That horse left the barn long ago.” Read some actual legislation and be enlightened. Of course, one might argue that representatives, having been duly elected, are doing the will of the People.

        1. Hi Rich, thanks for the response. Actually did not mean to post response to you, just my lack of posting experience-usually just a silent lurker. Anyhoo, I get it. I just wish more people would get it. Then, maybe the will of the people would mean something.

          1. My last pay check was $8750 just ecom working 12 hours for every week. My neighbor have found the estimation of $15k for a long time and she works around 20 hours for seven days. NSa I can not trust how direct it was once I tried it information…… Click here

    2. “that could *extremely* limit capacity”
      For The Party that would be the feature, not a bug.

    3. Oh FFS. The ones who benefit from limiting capacity or competition via regulation are precisely the large meat processors who have been behind all federal regulation since the late 1880’s when Europe put pressure on the US to certify that meat for export wasn’t infected/rotting (in the days before refrigeration and when ‘canning’ was still very spotty). Which then expanded to undermine muni-level inspection in 1906. Hell – even actual leftist historians like Gabriel Kolko get their basic history right. Only useful idiots spout the PR line that ‘populist’ attempts to influence the legislation/regulation so it is less cronyist are actually ‘socialism’.

      1. Your observation about large corporations benefitting from regulation that limits *competition* is reasonable. We’ll see what the GND does to the price of meat.

      2. JFree
        June.20.2020 at 2:12 pm
        “Oh FFS. The ones who benefit from limiting capacity or competition via regulation are precisely the large meat processors who have been behind all federal regulation since the late 1880’s when Europe put pressure on the US to certify that meat for export wasn’t infected/rotting (in the days before refrigeration and when ‘canning’ was still very spotty)….”

        Were you crawling in a hole to keep from getting sick then, you cowardly piece of lefty shit?
        Stuff your PANIC flag up your ass, stick first, sit on it, and then fuck off and die.

  2. Sounds like a desperate, last gasp from certain competitors who don’t like market verdicts, seeking a few months of benefit or merely headlines. Nobody sensible who seeks lasting achievement launches with a letter from six members of the minority caucus led by Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz.

    1. “Sounds like a desperate, last gasp from certain competitors who don’t like market verdicts, seeking a few months of benefit or merely headlines.”

      Reads like the ignorant whining of an asshole bigot.
      OH! Look! It *IS* the asshole bigot!

    2. Sounds like the opinion of a left-wing NPC who somehow prefers big business over small, private ones.

      1. The preferences of the consumer and the market should generally prevail. Which means small, inefficient, poorly capitalized competitors tend not to succeed — at least, not without substantial subsidies — in many circumstances.

        How are small businesses more private than large (more successful, generally) businesses?

        1. *How are small businesses more private than large businesses?*

          Seriously?

          lol

          1. Mom-and-pop shops (Clem’s Butcher Shop) constitute private enterprise but larger concerns (a Tyson or Cargill) do not? Please go on . . .

            1. Asshole-bigot here is ignorant of the difference between a privately-held company and publicly-held corporations.
              We can add that to the long list of matters of which he’s abysmally ignorant.

        2. Which means small, inefficient, poorly capitalized competitors who can’t sell to retailers due to USDA regulations tend not to succeed

          FTFY.

          Many are successful selling from their own stores and direct to consumers. They’re excluded from retail by regulation, not market preferences.

          1. Kirkland will just ignore that the regulations actually stop small ranchers from even participating in the market.

            He has the same level of understanding of markets and economics as shriek.

  3. “That horse left the barn long ago.” Read some actual legislation and be enlightened. Of course, one might argue that representatives, having been duly elected, are doing the will of the People. http://www.enews.pk/we-have-to-fight-and-expose-every-mafia-pm-imran-khan/

  4. First, don’t ask tell, second small producers most likely will not be able to compete on price. Mass production lowers costs. I’m sure though there would be a market for small operations. Although in some industries such as cars and many consumer goods small just won’t make it,

    1. Not on price, but they already compete. Currently they can’t sell to retailers, only direct to the consumer (USDA requires sales to retailers pass through a major slaughterhouse with a USDA inspector on site).

  5. “This was Bolton’s bet: If he is right and the book does not contain classified information, he [gains publicity and sales]; but if he is wrong, he stands to lose his profits from the book deal, exposes himself to criminal liability, and imperils national security,” Judge Lamberth said, adding: “Bolton was wrong.”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/judge-denies-justice-department-request-to-block-bolton-book-11592663539?

    U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth chose not to restrict publication of the book, since the offending parts of it have already been disseminated, but it was also decided that Bolton violated his contract. Bolton will probably lose all the proceeds from the book and if he published classified information, he’ll probably be in deeper shit than that.

    1. Libertarians are largely content, recognizing that the government’s disingenuous, partisan treatment of Mr. Bolton is quite likely to conclude by mid-January.

      Trump and his sycophantic misfits tried to rope-a-dope Bolton. The judge’s decision enables Bolton to rope-a-dope Trump, while the public benefits from the information Bolton contributes to the marketplace of ideas.

      1. John Bolton’s “revelations” will be mostly forgotten by Monday.

      2. Bolton?

        The guy who lied us into Iraq and then tried to lie us into Iran?

        lol

        1. Bolton, the guy hired by Trump to be part an important official in a laughingstock administration beloved by bigoted, half-educated clingers.

          1. Looks like another whiny post by an asshole bigot.
            Why, LOOK! It IS asshole bigot himself!

          2. as opposed to corrupt, demagogue-serving officials in a leftist administration?

          3. Is he credible or isn’t he?

            Jesus, have you been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or what?

            1. He’s got monopolar disorder. He’s an asshole all the time.

      3. Awww, I think Rev has a crush on that war mongering piece of shit.

  6. oh no, seems like donkey meat

    1. Porcine meat looks equine to you?

  7. Joe’s making a fool of himself on YT:
    “Hi, everyone. I’m coming to you for quick favor….”
    Seems he’s having trouble reading a tele-prompter and no one is asking him for another take.

  8. Correction:
    “Hi, everyone. I’m coming to you today for ask a quick favor….”

    1. Don’t forget to take your Droxy today, Sevo.

      1. “Don’t forget to take your Droxy today, Sevo.”

        Turd, your fantasies are of interest to your daddy. Fuck off and die.

      2. It says a lot about your mental acuity that you still cling to this easily disproven lie.

        1. Ask him about Obo’s ‘amazing’ economic recovery:
          “Obama’s Economic Recovery Is Now $2.2 Trillion Below Average”
          […]
          “Economists were surprised Friday when the Commerce Department reported that growth in the second quarter of this year was a mere 1.2%. But the real surprise is that anyone is surprised when the economy underperforms, since that’s what it has been doing for the past seven years.
          There has not been a single year in the past seven when the economy did better than President Obama promised, or that most economists expected…”
          https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/obamas-economic-growth-gap-now-tops-2-2-trillion/

          The guy was handed an economy IN THE TANK, and by simply standing aside, should have had a rocket-propeled recovery. Instead, he and his collection of econ-ignoramuses ‘planned’ the recovery and got what every planned economy ever got: failure.
          Turd? Stuff your cherry picking up your ass, along with your head and your TDS; maybe the three of them can talk you out of your kiddie-fascination and daddy issues.

    2. That ad’s been running for a few days on youtube. Just think – over multiple takes, that was the best one.

      1. I was thinking the same:
        “Cut! OK, we’re running out of studio time; maybe one of the audio techs can patch something together.”

        1. Or…”CUT! That’s perfect Joe, we don’t need another take.”

          “Thanks, Hillary. I really appreciate you helping us out.”

  9. Looks like The Dotard’s Klan Rally in Tulsa will be sparsely attended. They just cancelled the outdoor portion of the rally and are tearing the stage down.

  10. Trump has Barr fire the US Attorney investigating Trump Crime Family corruption in a Banana Republic type move.

    THEY IS MOVING IN ON US BOYS! SHOOT THE SHERIFF NOW!

    1. Barr can’t fire a U.S. attorney. Only the President can. And Berman stepped down, he wasn’t fired.

      1. It’s a shame turd didn’t provide one of those links he didn’t read, providing us with further amusement at his lies.

    2. ‘Trump has Barr fire the US Attorney investigating *Biden* Crime Family corruption in *Ukraine*..’
      FIFY, turd

  11. Fauci’s on the tube whining that people aren’t listening to him.
    He simply does not understand that he’s offering medical advice for an issue which has become far more complex than what he’s addressing.
    If he has no understanding that the riots were driven in part by following his advice, he deserves a job at a county hospital.

    1. Bailey will discuss this on Monday, presenting it as the gospel truth.

  12. Oops.

  13. Enjoy your flight home on Air Force One.

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