Vilsack says USDA committed to expanding slaughter capacity, other fixes

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA is working to help correct the imbalance in the cattle markets by first starting the process to strengthen enforcement in the Packers and Stockyards Act. Vilsack told Senate Ag Appropriations subcommittee members Tuesday the agency will soon roll out ways to greatly expand beef slaughter capacity across the country.

“I think you will see over the course of the summer that we have a pretty unique approach to this that I think will result in significant expansion of processing. I think there’s opportunities to leverage the federal resources with state economic development resources to create a variety of processing options.”

Vilsack says he supports Senator Tester and Senator Rounds’ bill to create a meat industry inspector position with subpoena powers at USDA, saying it’s part of the solution.

“Clearly, Packers & Stockyards, the lines need to be very specifically strengthened and drawn so that it’s clear what is an undue preference, clear what is unfair practices, clear what the scope of work ought to be, clear what competition standard we have to reach in order to have enforcement.”

Vilsack says price discovery and significantly expanding processing are also key.

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