Biden Announces Meat Supply Chain Action Plan; Industry Reacts

President Joe Biden and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with farmers and ranchers at the White House Monday to announce a meat supply chain action plan. The plan includes four core strategies for creating a more competitive, fair, resilient meat and poultry sector, with better earnings for producers and more choices and affordable prices for consumers.

The core strategies include expanding independent processing capacity, supporting workers at independent processors, strengthening rules to protect farmers and consumers, and promoting vigorous and fair enforcement of the existing competition laws. That includes issuing new and stronger rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act and new product of USA labeling rules so “consumers can better understand where their meat comes from.”

The action plan includes $1 billion to expand independent processing capacity. The White House calls the meat and poultry processing sector a textbook example of an industry dominated by a handful of large companies, with lack of competition hurting consumers, producers, and the economy.

Farm groups mostly welcomed the Biden administration’s meat supply chain action plan Monday. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says his organization “appreciates the Biden administration’s continued work to ensure a fair and competitive meat processing system.”

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association also welcomed the action plan, which they say will bring transparency and true price discovery to the cattle marketplace and truth in labeling through the closure of the Product of the USA loophole. However, the meatpacking industry disagrees. The North American Meat Institute claims the government intervention will not help consumers or producers.

NAMI President Julie Anna Potts says, “The Biden Administration continues to ignore the number one challenge to meat and poultry production: labor shortages.” Further, the organization claims the Biden administration is “conveniently ignoring” the fact the beef industry has changed little for almost 30 years, and that prices reflect supply and demand in a healthy market.