New bill directs USDA to analyze impact on livestock.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

September 11, 2023

2 Min Read
hereford cattle
John P Kelly/Getty Images Plus

Reps. Randy Feenstra, R- Iowa, and Elissa Slotkin, D- Mich, introduced legislation last week to quantify how industry consolidation is affecting the livestock industry. The Livestock Consolidation Research Act would direct USDA’s Economic Research Service to study the issue and report back to Congress.

According to Feenstra, a comprehensive study will help legislators understand what is truly happening in the industry and root out any discriminatory practices. He says he’s excited to partner with Slotkin to better understand how consolidation has impacted family farms, communities and businesses throughout the meat supply chain.

“Competition is vital to a functioning and fair economy,” Feenstra says. “In my conversations with producers — especially Iowa cattlemen — there is frustration that the current marketplace, with such few players, can harm and push out family farms and small producers.”

The Livestock Consolidation Research Act requires the Economic Research Service administrator to publish a report on consolidation and concentration in the livestock industry no later than one year after the latest Census of Agriculture is released. The study would specifically focus on beef, dairy, pork and poultry production, including broilers, eggs and turkeys. It would report size and location changes of ranches, farms, processing facilities and packers across the country.

The Economic Research Service would analyze that data to determine how those changes have affected farmers, ranchers and consumers. That analysis would include information on consolidation’s financial impacts, market entry impact, and its effects on access to resources.

“As large corporations have captured more and more of the livestock industry, family-owned farms have been feeling the pressure,” Rep. Slotkin says. “And as we saw during the pandemic, meatpacking consolidation leaves our food security and national security vulnerable if a producer goes down – not to mention increasing prices for working families. This legislation will make sure we’re taking a hard look at the impact of consolidation, so we can ensure farmers, ranchers, and consumers aren’t left unprotected.”

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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