The Biden administration unveiled a plan Monday, January 3, to boost competition in the meatpacking industry and alleviate surging food prices amid skyrocketing inflation, reported Bloomberg.
The plan earmarks US$1 billion in funds from the “American Rescue Plan” toward expanding processing capacity for independent meat processing firms, the White House announced.
The sum includes US$275 million in capital support for independent firms and US$100 million toward job development and training.
The initiative is President Biden’s latest effort to alleviate pressure on Americans as inflation reaches its highest levelin decades. Biden and top administration officials argue large companies have stifled competition, exacerbating inflation and higher costs for everyday items such as meat and gas.
As part of the White House’s plan, the Justice Department and the Agriculture Department will launch a joint effort to coordinate actions aimed at anti-competitive behavior.
The White House says the administration has been focused on tackling the lack of competition in agricultural markets since Biden’s July 9, 2021 executive order on promoting competition in the American economy. Biden says a small handful of meatpackers control most of the markets for beef, pork, and poultry, enabling them to squeeze farmers and ranchers while also raising prices on consumers.
As of Sunday night, the White House has not released the details of the Monday announcements, so it’s unclear if the administration is ready to release the proposed new Packers and Stockyards Act rules and enforcement policies that have been in development at USDA.
So far, the administration claims they are helping farmers by launching the US$100 million meat and poultry processing loan program and another US$500 million to support new meat and poultry processors. They also highlight USDA’s price transparency initiatives and the Department of Justice’s poultry price fixing investigation.