WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and North American Meat Institute (NAMI) criticized the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act released by the House Agriculture Committee. 

If passed, the legislation would create a new position in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that would investigate competition matters in the industry. The person could use all available tools, including subpoenas, to investigate and prosecute violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act.  

“Cattle producers strongly support effective oversight of the meatpacking sector, but the special investigator bill does nothing to accomplish that goal,” said Ethan Lane, vice president of government affairs at NCBA. “Rather than focusing on adequate staffing and funding for the woefully under-resourced Packers and Stockyards Division at USDA, this hasty proposal was rushed through the legislative process without consideration of the confusing bureaucratic mess it would create. Arming USDA with unchecked subpoena and prosecutorial power while significantly undercutting the Department of Justice’s role in the process is poor practice.”

NCBA added that the bill would divert resources from the Agricultural Marketing Service and take away help from the everyday cattle producers.

Lane said the vote on this bill comes when cattle producers are facing record inflation, soaring input costs, labor shortages and ongoing supply chain vulnerabilities. He added that Congress should be working to address these pressing issues that are cutting into producers’ profitability. 

The Meat Institute also condemned the House Agriculture Committee’s decision.

“We are disappointed in the Committee’s vote to approve this bill despite opposition from the Meat Institute and the nation’s largest livestock producer organizations,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and chief executive officer of the Meat Institute. “USDA and the Department of Justice already have the authorities this bill would grant making this expansion of government bureaucracy with its required staff and offices duplicative and wasteful.”