Ag Policy Blog

USDA Issues Guidance for Packers and Stockyards Act Rule

Jerry Hagstrom
By  Jerry Hagstrom , DTN Political Correspondent
National Farmers Union praised USDA for issuing new guidance for the Packers and Stockyards Act rules on undue and unreasonable preferences. The North American Meat Institute said the guidance is not a rule and is at odds with court rulings over harm to competition. (DTN file photo)

The Agriculture Department on Tuesday issued a guidance document on how the department will enforce the final rule on "undue and unreasonable preferences and advantages" under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, which has called for stricter enforcement of the act, said, "We welcome USDA's newly released guidance, which demonstrates a further commitment to strong enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The guidance provides helpful clarifications on the scope of the 2020 Undue Preference final rule and is essential, especially when considering the rule's shortcomings. It is also encouraging to see USDA reiterate its intention to issue three new proposed rules that could help further strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act.

"Family farmers need fair and competitive markets, and the Packers and Stockyards Act remains a critical tool to achieve this. We appreciate USDA's new guidance, which continues to demonstrate its commitment to fulfilling the vision laid out in President Biden's Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy."

Politico reported that Sarah Little, a spokesperson for the North American Meat Institute, which represents meat processors, said the trade group is prepared to work with the Biden administration on proposed rules. But she said the FAQs "are not regulations" and are "at odds" with previous court rulings that a plaintiff must demonstrate harm to fair competition in order to win a Packers and Stockyards case.

- USDA AMS -- FAQ on the enforcement of undue and unreasonable preferences under the Packers and Stockyards Act https://www.ams.usda.gov/…

- Federal Register rule -- Undue and unreasonable preferences and advantages under the Packers and Stockyards Act https://www.federalregister.gov/…

USDA to Conduct Surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 in Animals

USDA is dedicating $300 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to conduct surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging and zoonotic diseases in susceptible animals, and build an early warning system to alert public health partners to potential threats so they can take steps sooner to prevent or limit the next global pandemic, USDA said Tuesday.

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is the lead agency responsible for implementing the early warning system and is inviting public comment on a strategic framework that outlines how the agency will focus its efforts to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as other emerging and zoonotic diseases that could pose a threat to both people and animals.

USDA noted up to 75% of emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic, affecting the health of both people and animals. Outbreaks over the past two decades as highlighted as much, pointing to the West Nile Virus, H1N1 influenza, and Ebola. "In each of these, we remained largely unaware of the potential threat until we started seeing illnesses -- and deaths -- in humans."

- APHIS' American Rescue Plan Surveillance Program: Strategic Framework https://www.aphis.usda.gov/…

Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at jhagstrom@nationaljournal.com

Follow him on Twitter @hagstromreport

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