By Deena Shanker, Bloomberg/Newsroom
Currently, if a farmer wants to sue a company for anti-competitive behavior under the act, the farmer would need to show the company’s actions hurt not only him, but the entire industry. That creates a very high bar that the Obama rules would have lowered. But the Trump administration withdrew the rules, leaving groups like the Organization for Competitive Markets disappointed.
Fred Stokes, the founder of OCM, and a cattle rancher in Porterville, Mississippi, is cautiously optimistic that the new order will “settle that once and for all and meatpackers would again be subject to action regarding their ill deeds,” he said.
Citing recent supply chain-interruptions, including a fire at a Tyson plant in Kansas in 2019, the pandemic and the recent cyberattack against top meat producer JBS SA, he said that packers use these opportunities to charge consumers more for meat, and pay ranchers less for cattle, inflating their profits. Without the changed rule, he said, individual ranchers have little legal recourse.