WASHINGTON, May 18, 2020 – As part of its commitment to ensuring fair and competitive markets for the livestock, meat and poultry industries, on Feb. 7, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a complaint against five livestock buyers for alleged violations of the Packers and Stockyards (P&S) Act. These buyers were Martin D. Yoder Livestock Ltd., Merlin L. Garver Inc., Merlin Jan Garver and Kenneth Mezurek, doing business as Mezurek Livestock, and Jeffery L. Gorr, Sr.
An investigation by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service reviewed purchases of livestock made by these buyers at three auction markets in Ohio from December 2015 to May 2016. The investigation found that the buyers took turns bidding on livestock and failed to conduct their livestock buying operations in competition with each other. In its complaint, USDA alleges that the agreements to alternate bidding and purchases resulted in statistically significant lower payments to livestock sellers than would otherwise have occurred.
On Jan. 29, 2014, the USDA issued a previous complaint against the five livestock buyers alleging they agreed to alternate bids on livestock. Each of the five livestock buyers entered into consent decisions agreeing to cease and desist from arranging to take turns in bidding on livestock, and from failing to conduct their livestock buying operations in competition with other livestock buyers.
The P&S Act authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to assess civil penalties up to $11,000 per violation against any person after the notice and opportunity for hearing on the record. If the allegations are admitted or proven in an oral hearing, the allied buyers may be ordered to cease and desist from continuing violations of the P&S Act and assessed a civil penalty.
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