To invest $1 billion to boost competition in the White House

President Joe Biden will meet with family and independent farmers and ranchers on Monday to discuss his administration’s plan to create a “more competitive, fair, resilient meat and poultry sector,” according to the White House. Attorney General Merrick Garland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will also attend the meeting.

The announcement comes as food prices — especially for beef — skyrocket and inflation remains a top White House concern. Continuing global supply chain issues and the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 threaten these rising prices further.

“Over the past few decades, we have seen much of the industry become dominated by the handful of large companies that control most of the business and most of the opportunities – raising prices and decreasing options for American households, while also squeezing smaller businesses and entrepreneurs,” the White House said.

According to the US Department of Labor, beef prices in November were up 20.9% from a year earlier, and grocery prices rose 6.4%, the biggest 12-month increase since December 2008. Consumer price inflation, which includes gas prices and other categories, rose 6.8% in the 12-month period ended November, reaching its highest level in 39 years.

As part of the plan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide grants of up to $375 million for independent processing plant projects, $275 million in partnership with lenders, to provide loans and other assistance to businesses to increase access to capital, the workforce. Will provide $100 million for training. $50 million for technical support and research and development, and $100 million to help smaller processing plants reduce overtime inspection costs.

The funding will be allocated from the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 emergency relief bill that Congress passed last year.

This year, the Biden administration says it will issue stronger rules to combat abuse by meatpackers and processors, and new labeling rules so consumers can “better understand where their meat comes from,” according to the White House. have to say.

The White House says the Justice Department and the USDA are also announcing a joint initiative to coordinate their efforts and will launch a new portal to report concerns about potential violations of competition laws within 30 days.

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