House passes special meat investigator bill as Senate action awaits
Tri-State Livestock News (SD)
June 16, 2022
The House on Thursday passed a controversial bill that would establish an office at the Agriculture Department to investigate the meat and poultry industry along with other provisions the sponsors say would reduce the price of food and fuel.
The vote was 221 to 204 with seven Republicans joining most of the Democrats to pass the bill while five Democrats voted against it.
Principal sponsor Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., calls the bill the “Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act,” but the provision to establish the “Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters” has attracted the most attention.
The Senate Agriculture Committee has scheduled a business meeting on Wednesday consider two companion measures: S.3870 the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022 and S.4030 the Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act of 2022.
The House and Senate bills reflect the conflict between some meat producers who believe that both the cattle markets and the processing industry are unfair to them while other cattle producers and the meat and poultry processing industries say any problems are related to market forces and the coronavirus pandemic.
The House Republicans who voted for the bill today were Midwesterners — Don Bacon of Nebraska, Randy Feenstra of Iowa, Vicki Hartzler of Missouri, Ashley Hinson of Iowa, Dusty Johnson of South Dakota. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Marionnette Miller-Meeks of Iowa.
The Democrats who opposed it were Henry Cuellar of Texas, Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Vincente Gonzalez of Texas, Seth Moulton of Massachusetts and Peter Welch of Vermont.
Four members did not vote: Reps. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D., Sean Casten, D-Ill., Mike Garcia, R-Calif., and Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y.
In a news release after the vote, Spanberger noted that it included:
HOUSE VOTES TO CREATE USDA MEAT INVESTIGATOR
By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming
Agriculture.com - 6/17/2022
Over the objections of Republicans, the House passed legislation on Thursday to create a USDA special investigator to enforce fair-play rules in the highly concentrated meatpacking industry. It was the most significant livestock marketing reform to advance in Congress this session.
Democrats, who combined six other bills with the special investigator proposal, said the package would combat inflation by lowering fuel and food costs. Republicans said the investigator, a career USDA employee reporting to the agriculture secretary, was the poison pill in an otherwise appealing package.
“Increasing competition will ensure livestock ranchers get a fair deal for their livestock while families get a good price for meat and poultry,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi...
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