Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order to address the rampant concentration across the U.S. economy, with several directives aimed squarely at the food and farming sector.
The order calls on the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce our nation’s antitrust laws and challenge previous mega-mergers that have left many segments of our economy in the hands of a small number of powerful companies. It also directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to take specific measures to protect American farmers, including replacing the Trump Administration’s weak rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act with ones that make it easier for farmers to bring forth cases of abuse suffered by the hands of powerful meat processors.
“Farmers have waited far too long for reforms to the Packers and Stockyards rules,” says Food & Water Watch Senior Food Researcher and Policy Analyst Amanda Starbuck. ”While serving in the Obama administration, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack delayed implementation of crucial rules that would have protected farmers, which opened the door for those rules to be gutted by the Trump Administration. We urge Vilsack to seize this second chance to set things right.”
The order calls for additional actions to aid farmers and consumers. This includes redefining the “Product of USA” label rules so consumers are not deceived into thinking they are buying American beef when in fact it was imported from abroad. It also urges FTC to limit the ability of farm equipment manufacturers to prevent farmers or independent repair shops from repairing their products.
Starbuck added: “These are important first steps in addressing the stranglehold that corporations have on our farmers, food workers and eaters. The Biden Administration is making moves to address the growing corporate consolidation in the food system that farmers and advocates have pointed to for years.”