New tool allows ranchers to report anticompetitive practices

Farmers and ranchers now have a new online tool to report anticompetitive practices.

The new portal developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) allows farmers and ranchers to report potential violations of livestock and poultry antitrust laws, including the Packers and Stockyards Act.

As part of these efforts, this portal makes it easy for farmers and ranchers to register a complaint or tip and provide details about anticompetitive practices that would aid an investigation.

Who may submit a complaint or tip?
Anyone who suspects a violation of federal law governing fair and competitive marketing and contract growing of livestock and poultry, including the Packers and Stockyards Act.

What information should I provide?

Those reporting potential violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act and other competition laws via the online portal are asked to submit the following information:

The names of companies, individuals, or organizations that are involved,

A description of any possible violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act or other federal antitrust laws,

Examples of the conduct that may violate one or more of these laws,

Any other relevant details about the violation, and

The names of companies, individuals, or organizations that may be harmed by the alleged violation and how they are harmed.

What is the process following submission of a complaint or tip?

Complaints and tips will go through a preliminary review by USDA Packers and Stockyards Division staff and Department of Justice staff. If a complaint raises sufficient concern under the Packers and Stockyards Act or antitrust laws, it will be selected for further investigation by the appropriate agency. This action may lead to the opening of a formal investigation.

USDA or DOJ staff will only contact complainants if additional information is needed.

Will my confidentiality be protected?

Both USDA and DOJ will protect the confidentiality of the complainants to the fullest extent possible under the law. For any information provided, DOJ and USDA will follow their respective Privacy and Confidentiality Policies found at: DOJ Confidentiality and USDA Privacy. Packers and Stockyards regulations regarding confidentiality also apply: PSD Confidentiality. DOJ and USDA commit to supporting relevant whistleblower protections, including newly applicable protections for criminal antitrust complainants against unlawful retaliation.

To submit an anonymous complaint or tip on anticompetitive practices, complainants or tippers should provide appropriate details but not enter their names or contact information. Neither USDA nor DOJ will be able to contact anonymous complainants or tips to obtain additional information that might be needed to evaluate your complaint tip, or to engage in future correspondence regarding your complaint or tip.

This portal is an additional tool to support and protect these individuals who are vital to agriculture and our food supply, USDA said.

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