President Biden’s Executive Order – What’s in it for Nebraska?

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President Biden signed another executive order last week, but what is on the agenda for Nebraska? President Biden’s new executive order focuses on promoting competition in the American economy. The Executive Order directs the Administration to take decisive action toward reducing the trend of corporate consolidation and increasing competition – with the hopes of delivering concrete benefits to American consumers, workers, agriculturists, and small businesses. The executive order will establish a “whole-of-government effort to promote competition in the American economy” – meaning nearly every agency will receive some sort of direction regarding competition in the executive order. Specifically, the order includes 72 initiatives by more than a dozen federal agencies to promptly tackle some of the most pressing competition problems across the US economy. The executive order states – “once implemented, these initiatives will result in concrete improvements to people’s lives.”

“This Order hits many high-level priorities for Nebraska Cattlemen members – emphasis on the importance of more competition in the meat-packing industry, expanding broadband access opportunities for rural communities, and more access to healthcare in rural areas of Nebraska,” stated William H. Rhea III, President – Nebraska Cattlemen.

One area to highlight regards competition in the American economy. This executive order calls on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to enforce the anti-trust laws with the announcement that this policy should focus on labor markets, agriculture markets, healthcare markets, and the big tech sector. “With Nebraska Cattlemen having been the first organization to write a letter to DOJ on suspicions of anti-trust activity in the meat-packing industry, we thank the Administration for the continued focus to see this ongoing investigation through to the end” stated Rhea.

The executive order goes on to state “Over the past few decades, key agricultural markets have become more concentrated and less competitive,” and specifically calls out the beef industry by noting that “four large meat-packing companies dominate over 80% of the beef market and, over the last five years, farmers’ share of the price of beef has dropped more than a quarter – from 51.5% to 37.3% — while the price of beef has risen.”

The order calls out the meatpacking plants’ use of the “Product of USA” label stating that “importing meat from overseas with labels that mislead the customer about its origin.” It directs USDA to consider issuing new rules defining when meat can bear “Product of USA” labels, so consumers will have accurate, transparent labels that enable them to have a choice in choosing what products are made here.

Other agriculture-related items were directing the USDA to consider issuing new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act, increasing opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive fair returns, and encourages the FTC to limit equipment manufactures from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do it yourself (DIY) repairs.

Key components of the executive order that will boost rural vitality for Nebraska are broadband, healthcare, and flexibility when changing jobs. Broadband is an important piece to this order as it will save American’s money on internet bills by banning excessive early termination fees, requiring clear disclosure of plan costs to facilitate comparison shopping, and ending landlord exclusivity arrangements that stick tenants with only a single internet option. This order will also lower prescription drug prices by supporting state and tribal programs that will import safe and cheaper drugs from Canada. Americans with hearing loss will now be able to purchase hearing aids over the counter which will save them money in the short and long run. The last important part of this executive order is how it will impact the job market. It will make it easier to change jobs and help raise wages by banning or limiting non-compete agreements and unnecessary, cumbersome occupational licensing requirements.

Nebraska Cattlemen continues to engage with the Biden administration on topics that enhance member profitability and support rural communities and will actively work with the Administration as the content of this Executive Order is put in place.

More details on the executive order can be found here.

Written by: Jacy Hauge, Nebraska Cattlemen Director of Government Affairs

 

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