WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — A potential win for the small guys. President Joe Biden is expected to sign an executive order giving farmers more power when it comes to dealing with large processors. On top of helping producers negotiate with big processor corporations, it also lets farmers fix their own equipment and even clarifies what products can be considered “Made in the USA”.
Currently, meat can be labeled “Product of USA” if it is processed in the United States, the livestock can even be raised overseas and then processed into cuts of meat in the U.S. this loophole angers many American ranchers.
“If it’s going to say “raised in the USA, then it needs to be raised in the USA. It’s pretty simple. We can’t have cattle coming across or meat coming across the border and then putting a USA stamp on it,” said Zach Blair, a Butler County rancher.
Blair is a fourth-generation rancher from Butler County. He says the cattle business as a whole was devastated due to the pandemic last year.
“These guys in the feedlots that had cattle that had to go right now they just had to take whatever they could get,” said Blair. “So they were taking huge losses.”
This loss in profits has now become a centerpiece of the President’s potential Executive Order.
“The central issue is this, we have four packing plants that control about 90% of the meat processing in America right now,” explained Kansas Republican Senator, Roger Marshall. “Whenever there is that type of consolidation of the industry, some is going to get hurt by it.”
Sen. Marshall believes this executive order would give more leverage to producers in negotiations with big processors. “I do think that this executive order is going to help Kansas farmers and ranchers,” Sen. Marshall added.
While Marshall says he does agree with the executive order for a short-term fix, he says there also needs to be permanent legislation sooner than later.
“We recently had a hearing on this issue,” said Sen. Marshall. “On my urging, we had some experts from across the industry come in and try to talk about this problem to craft legislation to solve the problem.”