Senator Marshall Questions USDA Secretary Vilsack on Prop 12 and Imminent “Harm to Competition” Rule During Senate Ag Hearing

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Roger Marshall questioned United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Vilsack during a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry hearing on Oversight of the USDA. During Senator Marshall’s questioning, Secretary Tom Vilsack admitted that Congress should act to prevent the expansion of California’s Proposition 12. Vilsack also dodged questions on Senator Marshall’s serious concerns with the Emergency Relief Program and USDA’s imminent “Harm to Competition Rule” largely opposed in the livestock sector. 

You may click HERE or on the image above to hear Senator Marshall’s full opening remarks and questioning. 

Highlights from Senator Marshall’s questioning include:

Senator Marshall: As you know, California’s Proposition 12 is another costly regulation, it would seem to me that if you’re a larger company, that you could overcome these hurdles a little bit easier than a small packer could. . . . Should Congress act to prevent the proliferation of laws like Prop 12 across the country?

Secretary Vilsack: You know, I think you got to provide some clarity and consistency. 

Senator Marshall: In June of 2021, USDA stated, and I quote, The USDA will re-propose a rule to clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition in order to bring an action end of quote, under certain provisions of the Packers and Stockyards Act. This rule is now at the Office of Management and Budget for final review before it’s proposed. I point out that eight federal appeals courts have already affirmed that the Packers and Stockyards Act requires a person to demonstrate harm to competition. Certainly we have over 60 livestock organizations nationwide that oppose this rule because it hurts their livestock producers. So here’s the question, is it still the position of the USDA, that you can implement a rule that would be a blatant violation of Circuit Court precedent by not requiring harm to competition to bring an action under the Packers and stockyards act?

Secretary Vilsack: Well, the rule itself hasn’t been finalized, Senator. So I think obviously, we have to take into consideration any litigative risk associated with the rule and crafting it. I think you’re gonna see more activity from packers and stockyards before that rule is available for folks to look at. I think there’s still work that we need to do on the poultry tournament system. I think there’s more work we have to do to avoid discrimination and retaliation to producers. And I think you’ll see those rules coming forward relatively soon. I think there’s still work to be done and we’re continuing to do work on the role that you mentioned. And I think it is obviously appropriate for us to, to craft it in a way which we believe responds to any of the concerns that courts have raised in the past.