The Senate Agriculture Committee on June 22 passed the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act along with another bill addressing cattle markets by voice votes.

The Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act would create an Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters within USDA with authority to investigate Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) violations. This single position would be granted authority to bring civil action at will against a meat or poultry processor for PSA violations, without referring the matter to the Department of Justice, as is standard procedure across the entirety of the U.S. government. It also charges this office with liaising with the Department of Homeland Security on cybersecurity issues.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) offered an amendment that would make the position a career service employee rather than a political appointee, would require the office to notify the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) Packers and Stockyards Division (PSD) of any actions taken against integrators, would add language to the base bill clarifying that live poultry dealers are also subject to the act, and added language that would clarify that producers – such as chicken farmers or cow-calf operators – are not subject to the act. The amendment passed by voice vote, and as a result, the Senate’s bill differs from the House-passed version.

The bill must still pass the Senate floor and be conferenced with the House-passed version in order to be sent to the President for signature.

“The Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act is part of the latest attempt by this administration to shift the blame for inflation away from its own failed economic policies,” said NCC President Mike Brown. “The bill is duplicative, costly and severely misguided. NCC is urging the Senate to reject this controversial and partisan piece of legislation.”

NCC last week sent a letter to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture in opposition to the bill in advance of the markup.

The full bill can be found here.