Ag Policy Blog
USDA Issues New Rules on Red Meat Purchases, Poultry Contracts and Seed Sales
11/9/2023 | 6:58 AM CST
By DTN Political Correspondent
USDA on Wednesday issued a new rule that will require all beef, pork, lamb and bison purchases by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service must come from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. USDA buys about $800 million in red meat annually. (DTN file photo)
WASHINGTON (DTN) — In a series of actions under President Biden’s executive order on competition, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday that all red meat purchased by USDA must be "born, raised and slaughtered" in the United States, that a new rule would require transparency in poultry contracting and that seed companies must provide information to farmers at the point of sale.
Vilsack said that effective immediately all beef, pork, lamb and bison products purchased by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) must come from animals born, raised and slaughtered in the United States. Vilsack said that USDA purchasing rules already must meet "domestic origin requirements" and that "the guidelines for procuring beef, pork, lamb, and bison products were not as clear as other commodities.
"Last year, AMS purchased $800 million worth of meat products. This clarification to the domestic origin requirement will ensure U.S. producers reap the full benefit of USDA purchase programs and recipients of nutrition assistance programs benefit from domestically produced meat products," Vilsack said.
Sarah Little, a spokeswoman for the North American Meat Institute, said, "Segregation of cattle to those born, raised and slaughtered in the U.S. will increase costs and will place the burden on school systems and the taxpayer at a time of great need. We will need to review the policy and the costs of compliance."
A spokesperson for the National Pork Producers Council said the issue would have to be addressed internally within the organization, but Little said, "I can confirm that Canada ships weaner pigs to the U.S."
Vilsack also announced that USDA has created the position of chief competition officer, a new position at AMS to support its multiple efforts to address the many complex competition challenges in the agricultural sector.
The chief competition officer will be within the AMS administrator’s office and will "work closely with the current Biden-Harris USDA’s leadership on competition policy and will also serve as a career liaison to other federal agencies working to tackle competition issues using a whole-of-government approach," Vilsack said.
Vilsack also announced the publication of a final rule that requires a Live Poultry Dealer Disclosure Document that provides growers with "information they need to have a better understanding of realistic outcomes they can expect before making important financial decisions, such as capital-intensive facility improvements or taking out loans. In particular, the rule requires that dealers disclose earnings for growers by quintile, establish minimum flock placements, and explain variable costs growers may incur and how companies handle certain important circumstances such as sick flocks and natural disasters. It also establishes an accountability and governance framework that must be certified by the poultry company’s CEO."
The rule separately requires dealers provide tournament-specific disclosures of inputs to poultry growers who are paid using a poultry grower ranking system and requires that companies also show the distribution of inputs, housing specifications, and any feed disruptions for all the growers in the tournament, at the time of payment. The names of the growers will not be disclosed to protect their privacy. Under the final rule, live poultry dealers that slaughter fewer than 2 million live pounds of broilers weekly or 104 million pounds annually are exempt from these requirements, provided they do not require additional capital investments.
The final rule will be published in the Federal Register.