The Department of Agriculture is providing an additional 45 days to comment on its proposed rule to address market concentration and competition, the “Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity Under the Packers and Stockyards Act.”
The action comes just days after 100 House members and 19 Senate members of the Congressional Chicken Caucus requested an additional 180 days to comment on how the combination of three proposed rules on competition would interact with the other rules.
In addition to this rulemaking, the caucus noted USDA has signaled plans to propose another rule — the Clarification of Scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act — which has yet to be published.
“Each of these rules are inexorably connected, and USDA has described them as a ‘suite of major actions under the Biden administration to create fairer marketplaces for poultry, livestock and hog producers,’” the letter stated. “To fully understand the economic, legal and operational impacts of the proposed rule, and to provide meaningful comments, stakeholders and our constituents must have the opportunity to consider USDA’s competition agenda in its entirety.”
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National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Senior Director of Government Affairs Tanner Beymer said the extension is welcome for stakeholders to unpack the rule's 180 pages and 44 specific questions, but also questioned if 45 additional days may still not be enough time.
Based on NCBA's initial reading of the bill, Beymer said it poses some concerns on the treatment of different groups of producers based on their market access abilities and the type of marketing arrangements some have with packers.
“I think we all admire the desire of the department to take a good hard look at the industry in the marketplace to make sure that there is fairness. But I think that there are a lot of arrangements and a lot of nuances to this regulation that the department is not thinking through entirely,” he said.
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