Tester Statement on Administration’s New Efforts to Reduce Agriculture Consolidation

President cites Tester’s bipartisan leadership as the tip of the spear in the fight to increase market fairness and accountability

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the Biden Administration released an action plan to address consolidation in the beef industry, building on Senator Tester’s years-long push to increase competition and market fairness for family farmers and ranchers. As he announced the plan, President Joe Biden specifically cited Senator Tester’s bipartisan work with Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) as the forefront of work in Congress to reduce market consolidation.

“From my neighbors in Big Sandy to the White House, there is bipartisan consensus that consolidation by the corporate meat packers is putting family ranchers out of business, hurting consumers, and jeopardizing our nation’s food security. I’m glad the Biden Administration is building on my bipartisan work to bring transparency and accountability to ag markets so that Montana ranchers get a fair shake at the farm gate and families can afford meat at the store. But Congress needs to act if we’re going to defend our way of life in rural America, and I’m calling on the Senate to immediately put my Meat Packing Special Investigator Act on the Floor for a vote, which will put teeth back in the Packers and Stockyards Act and give the Administration the tools to hold the big packers accountable.”

Tester’s Meat Packing Special Investigator Act, which is co-led by Senators Grassley and Rounds (R-S.D.), would create the “Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters” within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Packers and Stockyards Division. The new USDA special investigator will have a team of investigators, with subpoena power, dedicated to preventing and addressing anticompetitive practices in the meat and poultry industries and enforcing our nation’s antitrust laws.

Senators Tester, Grassley, Fischer (R-Neb.), and Wyden (D-Ore.) also introduced their Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act, which will establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid cattle trades in order to ensure that Montana’s ranchers are getting a fair shake in a highly consolidated cattle market. And Tester recently introduced his bipartisan American Beef Labeling Act, which would ensure that only beef raised in the United States is labeled as “Product of USA.”