Last week, the House passed the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, which incorporates the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act. This specific piece of legislation would create a new position within USDA to investigate broad “anticompetitive” matters. The position would duplicate the work of numerous federal investigative agencies, including the USDA Packers and Stockyards Division, Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Homeland Security. Each of these agencies has existing authority, staff and budget to investigate anticompetitive actions.
Furthermore, the bill is not currently funded, which could lead to critical resources being diverted away from the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service at the expense of programs producers rely on like market data reporting, meat grading and the Cattle Contract Library pilot program.
“Rising food, fuel and fertilizer prices are hurting cattle producers around the country, but Congress is relentlessly focused on political posturing through this special investigator bill,” said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane. “NCBA strongly supports fairness and transparency in the market, but Congress is wasting time with legislative proposals in search of a problem, while ignoring real issues impacting cattle producers.”
Reps. Tracey Mann, Jake LaTurner and Ron Estes all voted against the bill, while Rep. Sharice Davids voted for it. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. NCBA is urging all senators to reject the proposal.