The Department of Justice has subpoenaed records from meat processors, though it is currently unclear which ones and how many. DOJ’s Antitrust Division confirms to Agri-Pulse that it has records related to civil investigation demands or subpoenas issued to any poultry, pork, beef or egg processors between Jan 1, 2020, and March 2, 2022.
The division however, declined to release any of the records because they “relate to ongoing enforcement proceedings, and their disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with those proceedings.”
Take note: Aside from an investigation looking into price fixing in the poultry sector, the DOJ has not publicly acknowledged any investigations into other parts of the meat industry despite calls from several legislators and farm groups to do so. In February, however, the beef packer JBS did sign a $52.5 million settlement with the agency over allegations of price fixing.

House tees up debate over meat industry oversight

The House will be debating the meat industry Thursday when it is expected to consider a package of bills that Democrats are using to try to show they're addressing inflation in food and fuel prices.

Republicans failed on Monday to get the House Rules Committee to strip the legislation of a measure that would create a special investigator’s office in USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division.

The top Republican on the Rules Committee, called the meat investigator provision a “partisan poison bill” that would keep most, if not all, Republicans from supporting the larger Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act.

Democrats strongly defended the USDA provision. “I just don't understand the outrage over restoring some fairness and competition to the meatpacking industry,” said Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “The big meat companies are raking in record profits and consumers are paying for it.”

No improvement in US wheat crop
As the central U.S. continues to bake this week, there’s been little to no improvement in Plains states that are critical to the nation’s winter wheat production, according to USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report.
Some 83% of the Texas crop is rated in poor to very poor condition, as is 51% of Oklahoma’s crop and 50% of Colorado’s. Some 41% of the Kansas crop is rated poor or very poor.
Why it matters: The war in Ukraine has sharply decreased global wheat supplies and increased prices.
By the way: Farmers are wrapping up corn planting. Some 97% of the expected crop had been planted as of Sunday, up from 94% a week ago. Some of the biggest delays have been in North Dakota, where 90% of the crop is now planted, compared to 81% a week ago.
Biden to sign Ocean Shipping Reform bill  
It’s been about a year since Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., and John Garamendi, D-Calif., first introduced their Ocean Shipping and Reform Act to help alleviate bottlenecks at U.S. ports and now the Senate version is finally on its way to the White House where President Joe Biden says he will sign it.
“This bill will make progress reducing costs for families and ensuring fair treatment for American businesses—including farmers and ranchers,” Biden said in a statement released soon after the House approved the bill Monday with a 369 to 42 vote. “I look forward to signing it into law.”

The bill “couldn’t have come at a more needed time for the United States and the world as changes from the Ocean Shipping Reform Act will enable more U.S. agricultural products to reach the global marketplace,” said National Association of State Departments of Agriculture CEO Ted McKinney.
SCOTUS kicks Monsanto petition to next week

As it did with the Proposition 12 petition it ultimately granted, the Supreme Court left the ag world hanging Monday when it did not issue a decision on a petition from Monsanto asking the court to examine the crucial legal question at the heart of a highly watched Roundup case.

The petition in Monsanto v. Hardeman was on the justices’ conference schedule for Friday, but when they issued decisions on dozens of petitions on Monday, the Monsanto case was not among them.

The petition was relisted for the conference on Thursday, June 16, meaning a decision could be announced Jun 20. But after that, there’s only more week before the start of the court’s summer recess.

Comments now due July 15 on domestic fertilizer industry

USDA has extended the comment period for a second time to gather input on the nation’s fertilizer industry, as it develops criteria for doling out $500 million in new funding for domestic production.

Comments are now due July 15. A March Federal Register notice sought input to help the Agricultural Marketing Service identify “relevant difficulties, including competition concerns, and potential policy solutions for the fertilizer market.” Last month, USDA doubled the amount of the funding available.

AMS has already received more than 1,000 comments so far. In announcing the funding in March, USDA said details on the application process will be announced this summer, “with the first awards expected before the end of 2022.”

New Rapid City processing plant to partner with Farmers Union Industries

Farmers Union Industries will provide on-site byproduct processing to the new beef packing plant being built in Rapid City, S.D., by Kingsbury & Associates and Sirius Realty.

The planned 8,000-head-per-day plant — recently named Western Legacy Development Corporation — is scheduled to break ground at the beginning of 2023, according to a press release. Once construction begins, it will take three years to complete.

Farmers Union industries will focus on processing the blood and bone meal byproducts from the plant, the release stated.

He said it: “I can’t help feel a little bit like Bill Murray.” That was Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D., referencing the movie Groundhog Day because the House passed a version of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act for the fourth time Monday night. The House passed the Johnson-Garamendi version first as a stand-alone bill in December and then twice again as part of larger bills.


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