Farmers, ranchers, and other producers and growers now have a one-stop shop to help ensure they are treated fairly. The new farmerfairness.gov portal developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) allows you to report potential violations of livestock and poultry antitrust laws, including the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently expressed concern that producers across the country have for too long faced a marketplace that benefits a few large companies over the farmers and ranchers who grow and raise our food.
For example, ranchers received more than 60 cents of every dollar a consumer spent on beef 50 years ago, compared to approximately 39 cents today. Hog farmers fared worse over the past 50 years, as their share of the consumer dollar fell from between 40 to 60 cents 50 years ago to approximately 19 cents today.
While antitrust and market regulatory enforcement laws have been on the books for 100 years, Secretary Vilsack, along with President Joe Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland, have affirmed their commitment to ensuring competition, vigorously enforcing antitrust laws, and assuring economic opportunity and fairness for all.
As part of these efforts, this portal makes it easy for farmers and ranchers to register a complaint or tip and provide details that would aid an investigation.
Who may submit a complaint or tip?
Anyone who suspects a violation of Federal law governing fair and competitive marketing and contract growing of livestock and poultry, including the Packers and Stockyards Act.
What information should I provide?
Those reporting potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act and other competition laws via the online portal are asked to submit the following information:
- The names of companies, individuals, or organizations that are involved,
- A description of any possible violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act or other federal antitrust laws,
- Examples of the conduct that may violate one or more of these laws,
- Any other relevant details about the violation, and
- The names of companies, individuals, or organizations that may be harmed by the alleged violation and how they are harmed.
What is the process following submission of a complaint or tip?
Complaints and tips will go through a preliminary review by USDA Packers and Stockyards Division staff and Department of Justice staff. If a complaint raises sufficient concern under the Packers and Stockyards Act or antitrust laws, it will be selected for further investigation by the appropriate agency. This action may lead to the opening of a formal investigation.
USDA or DOJ staff will only contact complainants if additional information is needed.
Will my confidentiality be protected?
Both USDA and DOJ will protect the confidentiality of the complainants to the fullest extent possible under the law. For any information provided, DOJ and USDA will follow their respective Privacy and Confidentiality Policies found at: DOJ Confidentiality and USDA Privacy. Packers and Stockyards regulations regarding confidentiality also apply: PSD Confidentiality. DOJ and USDA commit to supporting relevant whistleblower protections, including newly applicable protections for criminal antitrust complainants against unlawful retaliation.
To submit an anonymous complaint or tip, complainants or tippers should provide appropriate details but not enter their names or contact information. Neither USDA nor DOJ will be able to contact anonymous complainants or tips to obtain additional information that might be needed to evaluate your complaint tip, or to engage in future correspondence regarding your complaint or tip.
Farmers, ranchers, and other producers and growers deserve the benefits of fair and competitive markets for their products and services. This portal is an additional tool to support and protect these individuals who are vital to agriculture and our food supply.
Stuart Frank, Director of the Packers and Stockyards Division, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service