U.S. considering stronger protection for farmers and ranchers

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U.S. considering stronger protection for farmers and ranchers

- President Joe Biden's administration is considering stronger rules to protect farmers and ranchers after complaints that large meatpacking companies are using their market power?

Following a cyberattack last week against a single company, U.S. beef processing capacity, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack addressed the complaints, highlighting the consolidation of Brazil's meatpacking industry.

Cattle producers were seeingthing until the disruption of the cost of hamburgers and steaks budged in grocery stores, while prices they had for livestock barely fluctuated, a pattern they argue is now all-too- familiar. Six cattle and farm groups of late last month united against calls for action to level the playing field.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will consider new regulation under the Packers and Stockyards Act, a 1921 law passed by Congress to protect farmers and ranchers from unfair trade practices, Vilsack told reporters on Tuesday. That should include replacing the more harsh protections that the Obama administration proposed in 2016, which were broken under Donald Trump and replaced by less aggressive rules.

'There are a number of rules that were promulgated at the end of the Obama administration that I think deserve a refresh and relook, Vilsack said. In the coming months, we should do just that.

The Obama rules made it easier for farmers to show that they were victims of unfair trade practices. Additionally, the consideration will include a review of rules issued by Trump in 2020.

The department also announced a $4 billion USDA initiative to strengthen the food supply chain, part of which will be dedicated to addressing a shortage of meat processing facilities in the country, said Vilsack. Currently, four giant companies including Tyson Foods Inc. and Cargill Inc. control more than 80% of the beef processing in the United States.

More stories like this are available online at bloomberg.com.

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