Tester, Grassley Lead Bipartisan Letter Urging Senate Colleagues to Stand Up to Big Ag Consolidation, Put Family Farmers & Ranchers First

(U.S. Senate) — U.S. Senators and farmers Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today sent a letter pressing their colleagues to stand up to big ag consolidation by opposing recent efforts to weaken the Packers and Stockyards Act in the upcoming FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill, and protect family farmers and ranchers as well as consumers at the meat counter.

The Packers and Stockyards Act was passed in 1921 as part of an effort to hold large meatpackers accountable to consumers and producers. Enforcement already falls short in leveling the playing field for small scale producers, and the Senators highlighted that recent efforts by the nation’s largest meatpackers to prevent further enforcement would be detrimental to America’s family farmers and ranchers.

“Improving competition is critically important to ensuring consumers have safe and affordable protein options at the meat counter, and family farmers and ranchers get a fair deal for their products,” the Senators wrote, emphasizing the importance of fair practices in the industry. “We write today to ask for your help opposing any policy rider in the FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill that would prevent the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) from enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act to hold multi-national food manufacturers accountable.”

The Senators continued to highlight difficulties family farms and ranchers face: “Making ends meet raising livestock is a tough business under fair circumstances. It can be downright impossible when the deck is stacked against you by multi-national meat packers that have a concerning pattern of running roughshod over our nation’s anti-trust laws. Right now in the United States, four companies control over 80 percent of domestic Beef Processing, 60 percent of domestic hog processing, and 50 percent of domestic poultry processing. This level of concentration is a bad deal for consumers and a bad deal for family farmers and ranchers.”

The Senators concluded their letter by strongly urging their colleagues to oppose recent efforts to weaken the Packers and Stockyards Act“Congress must reject the latest push by these special interests to attach a rider to the FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations bill to once again block USDA from implementing the 2008 bipartisan Farm Bill reforms.”

Tester and Grassley, both farmers, have led efforts to combat corporate consolidation and protect the livelihood of family farmers and ranchers. Together, the Senators introduced the Meatpacking Special Investigator Act to combat anticompetitive practices in the meat processing industry by appointing a USDA special investigator with subpoena power to enforce the nation’s anti-trust laws. Last year, the Senators led the charge to pay back producers impacted by China’s evasion of anti-dumping duties. They both also joined a bipartisan group of colleagues in urging the Department of Justice to investigate potential violations of antitrust laws in the face of skyrocketing corporate profits.

Read the Senators’ full letter HERE.