Montana Cattlemen’s Association

Press Release

Release Date: June 30, 2023

Contact person: Gilles Stockton

(406) 428-2183

Email: mca



Op-Ed by Gilles Stockton, Montana Cattlemen’s Association Director

The essence of democratic process is the opportunity for all parties to be able to voice their views. The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, by inserting a budget rider which defunds the ongoing work by USDA to formulate rules that would re-invigorate the Packers and Stockyards Act, violated all principles of democracy. They did this action with no hearings or public input. Obviously, this budget rider is an inside job by the meat packer cartel aided by their public spokes-organization, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). The budget rider allows packers to continue using unfair and predatory markets.

Lest we wonder why people are frustrated with government and the political process, it is precisely because of too many inside deals that protect the interests of global corporations over those of farmers, ranchers, and other hard-working Americans. For more than a decade now, livestock producers have been begging USDA to publish rules that spell out the rights that poultry, hog, and cattle producers have under the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act).

This Act which dates back to 1921 has been systematically ignored precisely because the P&S Act prohibits many of the practices regularly employed by the meat cartel:

It shall be unlawful for any packer … to:

(a) Engage in or use any unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practice …; or

(b) Make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage … or

(c) Sell or otherwise transfer, … if such apportionment has the tendency or effect of

restraining commerce or of creating a monopoly; or

(d) Sell or otherwise transfer …, or buy or otherwise receive … any article for the purpose or with the effect of manipulating or controlling prices, or of creating a monopoly … or

(e) Engage in any course of business or do any act for the purpose or with the effect of manipulating or controlling prices, or of creating a monopoly …or

(f) Conspire, combine, agree, or arrange … to manipulate or control prices.

From any layman’s understanding it is clear that meat packers are in violation of this law; hence, you can understand why packers would bribe Congress to prevent enforcement. During the Obama Administration, USDA tried to publish what was called the “GIPSA Rules,” but Congress, just as now, pulled the funding. The Trump administration rescinded the proposed GIPSA rules.

The Biden Administration has once again been formulating GIPSA rules, and so far have published three for public comment:

1. Require poultry companies to be transparent with prospective and current poultry growers about contract terms and the real incomes they are likely to earn.

2. Prohibit deceptive contracting practices used by dominant corporations to take advantage of producers.

3. Define undue practices, undue preferences, and what constitutes harm to competition.

4. A fourth rule is in process, but not yet published, which would limit the use of captive supplies in the fat cattle market.

These rules, once finalized, would end the meat cartels stranglehold over poultry, hog and cattle producers. For the packers, opposition is all about money. However, why is the NCBA in cahoots with packers? All other livestock organizations favor the enforcement of the P&S Act. The NCBA’s lame excuse is that these rules are “government mandates” and would encourage litigation. But what if a “government mandate” and litigation is the only way to ever have justice?

If you are outraged about this inside hatchet job to prevent enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, call the House Appropriations Committee and give them a piece of your mind. Then for good measure call your congressmen and let them know how mad you are. Then call your Senators because they are the only ones who can stop this budget rider from becoming law.

Representative Kay Granger

Chair, House Committee on Appropriations

(202) 225-5071

Representative Rosa DeLauro

Ranking Member, House Committee on Appropriations

(202) 225-3661

Representative Matt Rosendale

(202) 225-3211

Representative Ryan Zinke

(202) 225-5628

Senator Steve Danes

(202) 224-2651