WASHINGTON, DC -- On Friday, President Joe Biden issued an executive order that takes a “whole government” approach in an effort to reduce the trend of corporate consolidation, covering agriculture, transportation, labor markets, healthcare, internet service, banking and consumer finance, and technology.
The agriculture portion of the order focuses on consolidation among meatpackers; seed, equipment, feed and fertilizer companies; farmer income; and right to repair.
The order directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to consider issuing new rules making it easier for farmers to bring and win claims, stopping chicken processors from exploiting and underpaying chicken farmers, and adopting anti-retaliation protections for farmers who speak out about bad practices. The President also asked USDA to consider issuing new rules defining when meat can bear “Product of USA” labels, so that consumers have accurate information enabling them to choose products made here.
USDA has been ordered to develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive a fair return, including supporting alternative food distribution systems like farmers markets, and developing standards and labels so that consumers can choose to buy products that treat farmers fairly.
The executive order encourages the Federal Trade Commission to limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting the use of independent repair shops or DIY repairs – such as when tractor companies block farmers from repairing their own tractors.
Additional aspects of the order could have positive impacts on agriculture, including in the transportation realm that address both rail and ocean shipping. The Surface Transportation Board is encouraged to require railroad track owners to provide rights of way to passenger rail and to strengthen their obligations to treat other freight companies fairly. The Federal Maritime Commission has been directed to ensure vigorous enforcement against shippers charging American exporters exorbitant charges.
USA Rice will monitor developments and work with agencies to ensure rice industry priorities are upheld.
to read the White House fact sheet on the order.