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Biden plans measures to help farmers deal with meat processors and tractor manufacturers

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Biden plans measures to help farmers deal with meat processors and tractor manufacturers

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is planning an executive order that seeks to give American farmers more leverage to deal with the big processors who buy their cattle and with manufacturers whose software makes it difficult for users to repair tractors, one told Reuters on Tuesday. informed source on the matter.

Biden’s broad competition order, expected to be released in the coming days, will also address other issues across the economy. Reuters previously reported that it will direct new rules on delayed air baggage. It will also address areas as broad as cell phone competition and Pentagon contracts, the source told Reuters.

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The order would encourage the Federal Trade Commission to limit the ability of agricultural equipment manufacturers to prevent tractor owners from using independent repair shops or repairing their own equipment, the source said.

The FTC wrote a report to Congress in May that discussed the “Right to Repair,” which addresses the issue of limits manufacturers place on who can repair items ranging from cell phones to appliances to automobiles. Those limits can also increase the price of those repairs.

The source noted that the FTC would establish the scope of any “right to redress” rule.

Biden’s order could help push for broader FTC rules that place restrictions on the capabilities of additional industries to prevent consumers from repairing products.

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Some tractor manufacturers such as Deere & Co, AGCO Corp, and CNHI use proprietary repair software and tools to prevent third parties from performing some repairs. Shares of the companies fell on news of Biden’s plans, first reported by Reuters on Monday.

John Deere said in a statement that it “does not endorse the right to modify embedded software due to risks associated with safe equipment operation, emissions compliance and engine performance.” He added that “less than 2 percent of all repairs require a software update, so most of the repairs farmers need to make can be done easily.”

The FTC did not immediately comment.

The source said that Biden and the USDA “believe that farmers should have the right to repair their own equipment however they want.”

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Separately, Biden plans to direct the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to write rules to boost competition in agricultural industries, including one under the Packers and Corrals Act to make it easier for farmers to file claims, he said. the fountain. There will also be retaliation protections for farmers who express concern about poor practices.

Biden will also direct the USDA to issue new rules defining when meat can carry “Product of USA” labels. Under current labeling rules, meat may be labeled “Product of USA.” If processed in the United States, even if the cattle are raised abroad and then processed into cuts of meat in a US facility.

Meat packaging has come under increased scrutiny after slaughterhouses temporarily closed during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, pushing up prices for meat sold by processors like JBS USA and Tyson Foods Inc , while reducing the prices of farmers’ livestock.

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USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has said he wants agricultural markets to be fairer and more resilient after the pandemic highlighted how concentration in the sector can harm farmers.

Four companies slaughter about 85% of US grain-fed cattle that are turned into steaks, roasts and other cuts of meat for consumers.

The USDA said in June it would begin work on three rules to strengthen enforcement of the Packers and Corrals Act, passed 100 years ago to protect farmers and ranchers from unfair trade practices. (Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; additional reporting by Tom Polansek and Rajesh Kumar Singh Edited by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)

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