WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA-02) today introduced a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would tackle anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries that threaten the American food supply and U.S. national security.
The Meat Packing Special Investigator Act — introduced in the wake of the recent ransomware attack on JBS, America’s largest meat supplier — would establish a new “Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters” within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Packers and Stockyards Division. This new USDA special investigator would focus on preventing and addressing anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industry, allowing USDA to both investigate difficult issues facing American producers and hold bad actors in the industry accountable.
The legislation introduced today in the U.S. House by Spanberger and Miller-Meeks is a companion bill to the legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Mike Rounds (R-SD) in the U.S. Senate earlier this month.
“In a matter of minutes, the recent cyberattack directed against JBS shed light on just how precarious the security of our meat and poultry processing industry truly is — and it underscored how continued consolidation within this industry is jeopardizing the stability of our nation’s food supply. Not only is anticompetitive behavior in the meat industry threatening the security of food on the shelves, but it is posing a significant risk to our overall national security,” said Spanberger, a Member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. “The Meat Packing Special Investigator Act would give USDA additional tools to crack down on bad actors and push for fair competition within the marketplace. By enforcing antitrust laws already on the books and protecting Central Virginia producers and consumers alike from unfair or deceptive practices, this bicameral bill is a commonsense step towards strengthening the resilience of the American meat industry. I am proud to help lead this bipartisan effort alongside Congresswoman Miller-Meeks — and I thank Senators Tester, Grassley, and Rounds for their leadership in the U.S. Senate as we work to protect the strength and security of our food supply.”
“Anticompetitive practices in the meatpacking industry are a threat to both our food supply and national security. Iowa producers are losing money even though consumers are paying higher prices at the store,” said Miller-Meeks. “The Packers and Stockyards Act must be strictly enforced to address the rampant anticompetitive practices in our meat and poultry industries, and our Meat Packing Special Investigator Act will do just that. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan and bicameral legislation with Congresswoman Spanberger to support Iowa’s farmers, ranchers, and producers.”
Under the Meat Packing Special Investigator Act, the new USDA special investigator would have access to a team of investigators — with subpoena power — focused on enforcing the nation’s antitrust laws. Specifically, this investigator would coordinate and act in consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as build a channel of communication between USDA and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to protect the security of the nation’s food supply and address potential threats.
Click here to read a one-pager about the bill, and click here to read the full bill text.