Over the objections of most Republicans, the U.S. House approved a controversial USDA special investigator to police meat industry competition and did so as a Senate panel set a date to act on the bill and a separate meat competition measure.
The House voted 221 to 204 with just seven Republicans backing and four Democrats opposing a USDA special investigator to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act—the anchor for a package of Ag bills. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Cracking down on the market power of big conglomerates, increasing competition will ensure that ranchers get their fair deal for their livestock, while families get a good price for meat and poultry. Third, this bill will make cheaper, cleaner, homegrown biofuels more widely available.”
But House Republicans largely opposed the special investigator measure. Top Ag Republican Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson announced a GOP-only bill a day earlier. “We’ve introduced the Reducing Farm Input Costs and Barriers to Production Act. Now this bill would reverse many of the more harmful regulatory burdens spearheaded by the Biden Administration. It would address escalating input costs and provide certainty to farmers, ranchers, agribusinesses, and other entities across our Ag and food supply chains.”
Thompson called the Democrat bill’s title, the Lower Food and Fuel Cost Act, “dishonest” since it costs $700 million, will heap new red tape on Ag and he claims, hike grocery bills. “At this point, a 40 percent increase in grocery costs. As you can imagine, families today, between that and a significant increase in energy costs, gasoline, there are some very difficult decisions being made by American families today. This week, Leader McCarthy and I have led more than 90 members of our caucus in sending a letter to President Biden outlining the administrative actions that could be implemented immediately.”
Republicans say their bill would boost access to fertilizer ingredients phosphate and potash, designating both as critical minerals and allow longer use of pesticides after EPA cancels them. The Senate Ag Committee, meantime, set next Wednesday to act on a Senate companion to the House-passed bill and the long-discussed Cattle Price Discovery and Transparency Act.