GREAT FALLS – At a White House Press Briefing last week, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese discussed the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to strengthening enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act and creating a more resilient food supply chain.
“This is about food security and fairness for families. As we have seen in a multitude of the ways this past year, we lack a resilient food system due to a cheap food policy that has allowed corporate control of our food dollar.”
— Walter Schweitzer, President of Montana Farmers Union
This announcement comes as “Gross profits for some of the leading beef, poultry, and pork processors are at their highest levels in history, while American producers lose money on their products and consumers face lofty food prices in grocery stores.
Food resiliency is a top priority for Montana Farmers Union. So much so that MFU is traveling the state presenting the workshop series Rebuilding Food Resiliency. Without vigorous enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, American consumers face higher prices at groceries stores. On the flip side, American farmers and ranchers aren’t receiving fair prices for their products. Further discussion at the White House briefing identified various actions to support producers and meet the goals of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Executive Order to Promote Competition in the American Economy.
Some actions by the Biden-Harris administration include:
- Taking decisive steps to crack down on illegal price-fixing, enforcing antitrust laws, and bringing more transparency to the meat-processing industry.
- Providing relief to small businesses and workers hurt by COVID and creating a more competitive food supply chain.
- Getting ahead of climate change-related disruptions by supporting farmers and ranchers from the effects of extreme weather.
- Working with Congress to make cattle markets more transparent and fairer.
Four consolidated corporate giants control nearly 85 percent of the meat packing industry. This monopolistic control and severe weather disasters are putting our food security at risk. Enforcement of the robust Packers and Stockyards Act and creating greater transparency in cattle markets, including bipartisan legislation from Senator Tester, are essential to promoting more significant competition.
“This is about food security and fairness for families,” said Walter Schweitzer, President of Montana Farmers Union. “As we have seen in a multitude of the ways this past year, we lack a resilient food system due to a cheap food policy that has allowed corporate control of our food dollar. Corporate monopolies are squeezing consumers and produces. We hear the frustrations of American families and farmers. We are encouraged by this dedication to tackle corporate consolidation and to bring more competition to the marketplace, which will level the playing field for families and farmers.”
Schweitzer is grateful President Biden and Secretary Vilsack have recognized the western-wide drought producers are experiencing by offering assistance to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock. According to Schweitzer, “Many Montana livestock producers are forced to haul feed over a 1,000 miles or sell their livestock. Sharing in the hauling expense will help Montana producers keep their livestock in Montana.”