(a) In its administration of the Packers and Stockyards Act, the Department has sought to promote and maintain open and fair competition in the livestock and packing industries, and to prevent unfair or anticompetitive practices when they are found to exist. It is the opinion of the Department that the ownership or operation of custom feedlots by packers presents problems which may under some circumstances result in violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act.
(b) Packers contemplating entering into such arrangements with custom feedlots are encouraged to consult with the Administration prior to the commencement of such activities. Custom feedlots are not only places of production, but are also important marketing centers, and in connection with the operation of a custom feedlot, it is customary for the feedlot operator to assume responsibility for marketing fed livestock for the accounts of feedlot customers. When a custom feedlot is owned or operated by a packer, and when such packer purchases fed livestock from the feedlot, this method of operation potentially gives rise to a conflict of interest. In such situations, the packer's interest in the fed livestock as a buyer is in conflict with its obligations to feedlot customers to market their livestock to the customer's best advantage. Under these circumstances, the packer should take appropriate measures to eliminate any conflict of interest. At a minimum, such measures should insure:
(1) That feedlot customers are fully advised of the common ties between the feedlot and the packer, and of their rights and options with respect to the marketing of their livestock;
(2) That all feedlot customers are treated equally by the packer/custom feedlot in connection with the marketing of fed livestock; and
(3) That marketing decisions rest solely with the feedlot customer unless otherwise expressly agreed.
(c) Packer ownership or operation of custom feedlots may also give rise to competitive problems in some situations. Packers contemplating or engaging in the business of operating a custom feedlot should carefully review their operations to assure that no restriction of competition exists or is likely to occur.
(d) The Department does not consider the existence of packer/custom feedlot relationships, by itself, to constitute a violation of the Act. In the event it appears that a packer/custom feedlot arrangement gives rise to a violation of the Act, an investigation will be made on a case-by-case basis, and, where warranted, appropriate action will be taken.
(Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under control number 0580-0015)
(7 U.S.C. 203, 204, 207, 217a, 222 and 228)
[49 FR 33004, Aug. 20, 1984, as amended at 68 FR 75388, Dec. 31, 2003; 84 FR 45648, Aug. 30, 2019]