Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) partnered with Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) to announce a new bipartisan effort to address anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries that threaten the nation’s food supply and national security after the recent ransomware attack on the country’s largest meat supplier, JBS.
“Increased consolidation is driving concerns about competitive market access for Iowa livestock producers,” Grassley said. “The recent cyberattack added to existing vulnerabilities in our food supply chain, underscoring the importance of protecting the livelihoods of our family farmers. Food security is national security. This bill provides USDA with the necessary tools to beef up enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, increase coordination with DOJ, FTC, and DHS and to foster a fair and functional marketplace for farmers and consumers alike.”
The Meat Packing Special Investigator Act would create the “Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters” within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Packers and Stockyards Division.
The USDA special investigator will have a team of investigators dedicated to preventing and addressing anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries and enforcing national antitrust laws. The team also has subpoena power. They’ll work with the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to bridge the gap between the USDA and the Department of Homeland Security, which will protect the continuation of the food supply and increase our national security. The USDA will now have a team of dedicated staff with the ability to investigate the issues producers face and hold “bad actors” accountable.