The National Farmers Union says a proposed rule from the USDA will undermine the Packers and Stockyards Act. 

Those were among the comments that new National Farmers Union President Rob Larew submitted to the USDA late last week. Larew points out that the Packers and Stockyards Act was put into place to “assure fair competition” in the livestock, meat, and poultry industries, as well as to “safeguard farmers and ranchers from unfair, deceptive, unjustly discriminatory and monopolistic practices.” 

The NFU says the rule in question, which outlines criteria for determining if a company has shown “undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages” for one farmer over another, does little to achieve either goal. 

Instead, the rule will provide few, if any protections to farmers while shielding corporations from legal challenges to abusive and anti-competitive actions. 

Larew is urging the USDA to develop clear and specific criteria that would offer meaningful protections to family farmers and ranchers. 

“There has long been a large power imbalance between family farmers and the livestock and poultry industries,” Larew says. “That’s why Congress put the Packers and Stockyards Act into place, but it has lacked the teeth it needs to provide the most basic protections to farmers and ranchers.” 

He says it’s supposed to protect farmers from corporations, not the other way around.