Appellate Judges with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals have sided with the USDA on packer rules. The judges ruled the agency was not “arbitrary and capricious” in withdrawing an interim final rule that would have made it easier for farmers and ranchers to sue meatpackers on claims of unfair treatment.
The court denied a petition by the Organization for Competitive Markets to review the decision. The OCM contends that USDA violated a congressional mandate given in the 2008 Farm Bill to publish a regulation outlining criteria around contracting practices by June 2010. OCM filed the lawsuit after USDA, under the new Trump Administration, withdrew the final interim rule, known as the Farm Fair Practice Rules, which were implemented at the end of the Obama Administration in 2016.
The interim rule would have made it much easier for farmers and ranchers to prevail in cases where they claim that packers treated them unfairly in contracts because it would have all but eliminated the need for the plaintiffs to prove competitive harm.