Packers and Stockyards Enforcement

Types of Enforcement Actions

Packers and Stockyards Division (PSD), part of AMS’ Fair Trade Practices Program (FTPP), monitors industry activities and conducts regulatory compliance reviews and investigations to determine whether subject persons and firms are complying with the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act) and regulations. Violations are resolved according to their seriousness as follows:

  • Notice of Violations - Form giving regulated entities official notice of the alleged violations found. PSD seeks correction of violations, when practical, without resorting to legal proceedings.
  • Stipulation Agreements - Legal agreement citing violation(s) found, the civil penalty amount PSD will accept in settlement of the alleged violation(s) without pursuing a formal action, and a statement for signature by the alleged violator, agreeing to pay the civil penalty and waive the right to a hearing.
  • Administrative Actions - Legal actions taken within USDA. AMS’ FTPP files a complaint, alleging specific violations, against a firm or individual. The accused party has a right to a hearing before an administrative law judge. The parties may appeal the judge's decision to the USDA Judicial Officer. The accused party may appeal the Judicial Officer's ruling to a U.S. Appeals Court, and further to the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Court Actions – USDA may take legal action through the Justice Department, in a U.S. District Court, against those subject to the P&S Act.

The resolutions of many legal actions are judicial opinions and orders.

Penalties for violations can include:

  • Cease and desist orders;
  • Suspension of business operations subject to the P&S Act (only applicable to registered market agencies and dealers);
  • Civil penalties up to a maximum of $32,000 per violation of the poultry trust provisions, and $11,000 per violation of the other provisions in the P&S Act and regulations; and/or
  • Permanent injunctions, fines, and jail sentences for actions taken through the Justice Department.

Suspension Listing

PSD publishes a list of suspended businesses and individuals, which we update monthly.  Suspended businesses and individuals are prohibited from registering or conducting business subject to registration while the suspension is in effect (9 CFR §201.11).  Failure to comply with a suspension order has resulted in additional administrative actions or court actions to enforce continuing violations and violations of a previous Secretary’s order.

The most common reasons PSD will seek a suspension as a sanction against a registered business or individual are for failure to pay for livestock or operating while insolvent.  Accordingly, when you do business with suspended businesses and individuals, you do so at your own risk. 

Administrative Actions

The Office of the Administrative Law Judges (OALJ) publishes the official copy of decisions in legal actions taken with USDA.  For your convenience, we provide links below to the most recent decisions issued under the Packers and Stockyards Act, organized alphabetically by the name of the first respondent (accused party) within the fiscal year FTPP initiated the action for PSD:

2018

2017

2016

  • High Plains Livestock, LLC dba Producers Livestock Auction, Michael Flen, Calvin Pareo, and Darcie Pareo (D-16-0126, D-16-0127, D-16-0128, and D-16-0129) – Consent decision (9/8/2017) (pdf)

The OALJ also publishes Agriculture Decisions as a record of decisions and orders issued for prior years.  You can find P&S Act Decisions in Part Two of each volume on the OALJ website.

Judicial Officer Decisions

Sometimes the parties appeal an Administrative Law Judge’s decision to the USDA Judicial Officer.  The OALJ publishes a link to Judicial Officer decisions for 2017 and 2018 on the OALJ website. You can find Judicial Officer decisions prior to January 1, 2017, posted to the University of Arkansas' National Agricultural Law Center website. For legal citations, both websites, as well as the Agricultural Decisions volumes, are considered official sources.

News Releases or Notices to the Trade

You can find news releases or notices to trade related to PSD administrative actions on AMS News & Announcements.

Requesting Other Decisions or Filings Related to Administrative Actions

If you wish to see the full text of a decision, or any other filings related to administrative actions under the P&S Act, which are not provided through one of the links above, you can request a copy by emailing USDA’s Office of the Hearing Clerk (OHA) at SM.OHA.HearingClerks@oha.usda.gov.  Please include

  • Your name,
  • Your contact information,
  • A description of the information/documents you are requesting, and
  • The preferred method of delivery. 

Note: OHA will treat requests from parties not involved in a particular case as requests pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  Therefore, you should expect a response from that office within twenty (20) business days from the date that they receive the information request.  “Business days” do not include Saturdays, Sundays, or federal holidays.  See 7 CFR 1.7(a).