Congress Could Beef Up Meatpacking Oversight This Fall. But Obstacles To Enforcement Remain

A century ago, Congress wrote a law intended to counteract unfair business practices in the meatpacking industry.

Fast forward to 2022: Just four companies control more than half of the beef, pork and poultry markets, and the meatpacking industry has fielded lawsuits alleging abusive behavior. The Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 largely has failed in what it was supposed to accomplish, legislators and fair market advocates said.

However, new bills before the U.S. Senate aim to reinvigorate the act.

At a time when there’s greater scrutiny at the federal level on consolidation in the meatpacking industry, the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022 would create an Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters in the U.S. Department of Agriculture tasked with enforcing the 1921 law.

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