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USDA looks to promote fairer poultry markets

Officials say new rule targets a range of abuses.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

June 4, 2024

2 Min Read
White chickens
Getty Images/sansubba

USDA announced a new rule intended to level the playing field in the poultry industry. The proposed Poultry Grower Payment Systems and Capital Improvement Systems rule would address what the agency calls “a range of abuses” related to grower ranking, or “tournament,” payment systems. It also addresses additional capital investment requirements some poultry companies require from their broiler chicken contract growers.

USDA Senior Advisor for Fair and Competitive Markets Andy Green says poultry growers deserve a fair shake and consumers deserve a fair price.

“This proposed rule is intended to provide growers with a clear base price in contracts, a contracting partner that designs and operates any comparisons fairly, and access to the information that growers—and USDA—need to identify and halt coercive investment demands before growers take on large debts,” he says. “We look forward to taking comment from all interested parties.”

This is the third additional Packers and Stockyards Act rule USDA has introduced to create fairer markers. It prohibits base price deductions in broiler chicken grower contracts. Instead, only performance bonuses would be permitted.

USDA will provide “new tools” allowing growers to better identify risks that may arise on capital improvement practices while improving the agency’s enforcement capabilities. The new rule also established a “duty of fair comparison” to ensure tournaments are conducted reasonably and equitably.

The National Farmers Union was one of several ag groups praising the rule for addressing abuses in the poultry industry. NFU President Rob Larew says family farmers and ranchers deserve to operate in a fair and transparent marketplace.

"This proposed rule aims to ensure poultry growers receive an honest price for their hard work and that they have access to adequate information before investing in major capital upgrades,” he says. “NFU looks forward to reviewing the proposed rule to make sure it offers producers the protections they need.”

Stakeholders now have 60 days to submit comments on the government web portal. USDA will consider the feedback as it works to finalize the rule.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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