Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a notice in the Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw the inactive proposed Packers and Stockyards Act rule published on December 20, 2016. This is a technical administrative step which clears the way for USDA to bring forward a new set of proposed rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act.
New rules are central elements of USDA’s robust agenda to deliver on President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy. The Executive Order launched a whole-of-government approach to strengthen competition, and directed USDA to, among other things, “address the unfair treatment of farmers and improve conditions of competition in the markets for their products” under the Packers and Stockyards Act.
The inactive 2016 proposed rule identified criteria that USDA could consider under the Packers and Stockyards Act when determining whether a live poultry dealer's use of a system for ranking poultry growers for settlement purposes is unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive or gives an undue or unreasonable preference, advantage, prejudice, or disadvantage.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which oversees the Packers and Stockyards Act, must first publish this notice to withdraw the 2016 proposed rule before the agency can publish a new proposed rule to address and prevent unfair and deceptive practices in the poultry industry. Publication of this new poultry rule is included as part of USDA’s rulemaking initiatives on the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions released in June 2021 by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
As AMS develops this new rule, it is carefully considering the issues raised during the comment period on the 2016 proposed rule, as well as studying marketplace developments since the 2016 proposal was published. The target for publication of the new proposed rule is early 2022. AMS welcomes public review and comments.
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