Credit: Steve Matzker/For Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has initiated 250 cases against companies and individuals for non-compliance with the Packers and Stockyards Act since 2016. The act promotes fair competition in the livestock, meat and poultry markets.

Enacted in 1921, the act responded to concerns about anti-competitive practices by the “Big Five” meatpackers at the time: Swift & Company, Armour & Company, Cudahy Packing Company, Wilson & Company, and Morris & Company. These practices were acknowledged as detrimental to producers and consumers, according to the National Agricultural Law Center.

Since 2016, the USDA has averaged 26 administrative actions per year.

In November, the Biden administration finalized the first in a series of rules under the act. The new rule requires large processing companies to provide critical information about the terms of their agreements to poultry growers that raise the birds, according to a USDA press release.

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Mónica Cordero is a Report for America corps member and part of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk team. Her expertise includes data analysis with Python and SQL, and reporting under the...