WASHINGTON – President Biden signed a sweeping executive order aimed at cracking down on anti-competitive business practices across multiple industries, including agriculture. The order includes 72 initiatives across more than a dozen agencies to promote competition.
In the order, Biden directs the US Department of Agriculture to adopt anti-retaliation protections for poultry producers that report bad business practices by processors; issue new rules defining when meat products can bear a "Product of the USA" label; and increase market access opportunities for farmers to sell their products and receive a fair return.
“For decades, corporate consolidation has been accelerating. In over 75% of US industries, a smaller number of large companies now control more of the business than they did twenty years ago,” the White House said. “This is true across healthcare, financial services, agriculture and more.
“That lack of competition drives up prices for consumers. As fewer large players have controlled more of the market, mark-ups (charges over cost) have tripled.”
Measures aimed at protecting producers and workers include measures that make it easier to change jobs and raise wages by banning or limiting non-compete agreements.
The executive order also directs the Federal Trade Commission to limit equipment manufacturers from barring self-repairs or third-party repairs of their products “…such as when tractor companies block farmers from repairing their own tractors,” the White House said.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union applauded the executive order. Marc Perrone, UFCW International president, joined Biden at the White House for the executive order signing.
“President Biden’s executive order sends a clear message that this White House is committed to creating a level playing field for American workers,” Perrone said.
“Meatpacking workers have been among the hardest hit by COVID-19 and today’s action puts workers and consumers first by strengthening oversight of meatpacking monopolies that suppress wages and drive up food prices at the grocery store,” he added. “With stronger country of origin labeling for food, this executive order supports American jobs and protects the right of consumers to know where their food is from, whether it’s safe, and if it’s produced by American workers.”