Special Investigator Bill Sent to Senate Floor for Vote

USAgNet - 06/27/2022

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry, and Nutrition Wednesday approved its version of the “Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022” by voice vote. The legislation would create a new position at USDA charged with enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act through civil lawsuits, which typically are brought by the Department of Justice.

The PSA ensures fair competition and fair trade practices in the livestock and poultry industries. The House earlier this month approved a similar bill. Both measures include an amendment requiring the special investigator position to be filled by a career-level attorney rather than a political appointee.

While that’s more palatable to the meat and poultry industries, they continue to have major concerns with the measure. The National Pork Producers Council opposes the legislation because the DOJ, rather than USDA, is better positioned to pursue civil actions; a new USDA regulation related to buying and selling livestock – the so-called GIPSA rule – will be issued soon; and there is no data supporting the Biden administration’s claims that consolidation in the meatpacking industry has caused higher retail meat prices.

Timing on a floor vote in the Senate on the special investigator bill is uncertain but could occur before Congress’s August recess.

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