Minnesota Farmers Union submits comments on competition in livestock processing sector
Sept. 3, 2021
ST. PAUL – Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) called for increased workforce training, expanded slaughter capacity and support for new models of livestock processing in a letter submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Aug. 30.
The letter was drafted in response to a request for comments on “Investments and Opportunities for Meat and Poultry Processing Infrastructure.” The request is part of the Biden administration’s executive order to improve competition in the marketplace and its efforts to Build Back Better following the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has $500 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan to improve processing infrastructure, increase capacity and accelerate diversification in the processing sector. MFU is one of more than 460 individuals and organizations who commented in response to the request for comments.
In the letter, MFU President Gary Wertish wrote that the $500 million investment is the tip of the iceberg. “Real and lasting change in this industry will take a more sustained investment,” he said. “We look forward to partnering with you to build a meat processing industry that is fair to consumers, safe for workers and allows independent family farmers to build their business and contribute to vibrant rural communities.”
National Farmers Union also submitted comments, with NFU President Rob Larew reiterating the need to strategically direct federal support towards enhancing resiliency and fostering competition in the meat and poultry processing sector. Farmers Union members have long called for a more competitive marketplace where family farmers and ranchers have the opportunity to thrive, support their families and grow their businesses.
“These investments are a critical component of President Biden’s Executive Order on competition and represent an important step forward in achieving a more diverse and secure food supply chain and agricultural economy,” Larew wrote. “When COVID-19 brought disruptions to our livestock markets and food supply, the need for additional, diversified processing capacity became evident to policymakers and the general public.”
MFU also welcomes USDA’s new guidance on how the agency will enforce the final rule on “Undue and Unreasonable Preferences and Advantages” under the Packers and Stockyards Act.
“Minnesota Farmers Union supports strengthening the Packers and Stockyards Act to enhance competition in the marketplace,” Wertish said. “Just like consumers want choices when it comes to buying their food, farmers want choices when it comes to selling their livestock. In too many areas, farmers have only one buyer for their livestock and that buyer sets a take-it-or-leave it price. It’s time for farmers to have more options. That’s why we’re excited to see the Biden administration focusing on promoting competition in the U.S. economy.”
About Minnesota Farmers Union
Minnesota Farmers Union works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. MFU is a nonprofit membership-based organization. Membership is open to everyone. Learn more and join at www.mfu.org, and follow MFU on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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Minnesota Farmers Union—Standing for Agriculture, Working for Farmers (www.mfu.org)