President Biden's Executive Order and the Agriculture IndustryMon, 19 Jul 2021 11:27:32 CDT
On Friday, July 9, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order instructing a wide range of activities directed at more than a dozen federal agencies. According to the White House, the order included 72 initiatives that are to promptly tackle some of the most pressing competition problems across the economy including a handful addressing the agriculture industry that are being closely monitored by Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. (PCG).
In the order President Biden directed the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to work towards resolving issues under the jurisdiction of the respective agencies and commission. Agricultural issues the new Executive Order address include:
• Directing the USDA to consider issuing new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act making it easier for farmers to bring and win claims, prevent chicken processors from exploiting and underpaying chicken farmers, and adopting anti-retaliation protections for farmers.
• Directing USDA to consider issuing new rules defining when meat can bear “Product of USA” labels so consumers have accurate, transparent labels enabling them to choose products made here.
• Directs the USDA to develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive fair returns, by supporting alternative food distribution systems like farmers markets and developing standards and labels for consumers to identify products that treat farmers fairly.
• And finally, President Biden encouraged the FTC to limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs on their equipment– such as when tractor companies block farmers from repairing their own tractors.
Overall, the order, signed July 9 encourages leading antitrust agencies to focus their enforcement efforts on problems in key markets and coordinate other agencies’ ongoing response to corporate consolidation.
The order also calls on the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FTC to vigorously enforce antitrust laws and recognize that the law allows them to challenge prior bad mergers that were not challenged by previous Administrations. Additionally, the order announces a policy that enforcement should focus in particular on labor markets, agricultural markets, healthcare markets, and the technology sector.
Lastly, of interest, the order also includes language that urges the Federal Maritime Commission to ensure strong enforcement against shippers charging American exporters exorbitant charges, an issue that is significantly impacting U.S. agricultural exporters.
PCG will continue to monitor the progress of this Executive Order as they relate to the agriculture industry, keeping you abreast of the issues.
Article by Whiteny Curry with Plains Cotton Growers
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