The Secretary of Agriculture may award monetary damages against any stockyard owner, market agency or dealer who has caused harm by acting in violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 (P&S Act). The P&S Act does not provide for reparations against packers, live poultry dealers, or swine contractors.
Any interested person (including any agency of a State or territory having jurisdiction over stockyards subject to the P&S Act in such State or territory) claiming harm done by a stockyard owner, market agency, or dealer.
What Constitutes Harm?
Anything done or omitted to be done related to stockyard services, rates or charges, or general practices which are unreasonable and/or discriminatory and/or violates the order of the Secretary made under Title III of the P&S Act.
How Long Do I Have to File a Reparation?
The complaint must be received by the Department within 90 days after the date of alleged cause of harm. Saturday, Sunday, and Holidays count towards the 90 days.
How to File a Reparation Complaint.
- State the cause of action, date of transaction(s), amount of damages, method of computation, place(s) where the transaction occurred, and the names of the parties
- The complaint does not need to use any particular form in filing, but the P&SP 5000 form (pdf) is strongly recommended. This form can be requested from any Regional Office.
- File the written complaint with any full time employee of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Packers and Stockyards Division (PSD).
What Happens After I File a Complaint?
- Once processed and investigated, the complaint will be served on the Respondent. The Respondent will then have 20 days upon receipt to file an answer or answer/counterclaim to the complaint.
- After the answer has been received, or the time for filing an answer has expired, the complaint will be filed with the Department’s Hearing Clerk.
- If a Respondent fails to file an answer as required above or Complainant fails to answer a subsequent counterclaim, such persons shall be deemed to have admitted all the allegations of the complaint against such person, and to have consented to the issuance of a final order in the proceeding, based on all evidence in the record. See 9 CFR §202.106(d)
- If an answer or counterclaim was received and a dispute is evident, all further filings of evidence and statements must be verified in accordance with 9 CFR §202.112(b) for an oral hearing or 9 CFR §202.113(b) for a written hearing.
- The Presiding Officer will then determine whether the hearing procedures will be written or oral. A Hearing will be written unless:
- The complainant equals or exceeds damages of $10,000;
- Either the Respondent or Complainant file a written request for an oral hearing; or
- It is deemed necessary to establish the facts and circumstances giving rise to the controversy.
- If the Presiding Officer determines that the hearing will be written, each party will be notified in writing and given 20 days to file objections.
- A written hearing process will give both the Complainant and the Respondent time to file additional evidence and respond to the evidence. Both parties will have 20 days from receipt to file a response.
- After filing of the last evidence or the time to file has expired, the parties will then be given 20 days from receipt of written notice to file a written argument of brief, proposed findings of fact, conclusions and order.
- Once the 20 days has expired, a letter is sent to notify the parties that the time for submission of evidence or pleadings is closed. From there, the case and all the additional evidence is reviewed, the Department will prepare and issue a decision and order. This decision and order will be served on the parties in accordance with 7 CFR 1.147.
- AMS PSD cannot enforce payment of awards, but the Complainant receiving an award may file for judgment within 1 year in Federal District Court or in any state court having general jurisdiction of the parties. PSD does not represent either party but will investigate the complaint. It is the Complainant’s burden to prove his or her allegations.
Due to the variation in the circumstances surrounding reparation claims, PSD’s workload and investigative procedures, as well as the regulatory process for adjudicating reparation claims, the time required to resolve reparation claims will vary.
Can a Reparation Be Withdrawn?
At any time, a complainant may withdraw a complaint terminating the reparation complaint unless there is a counterclaim.