First reported Tuesday, President Joe Biden is tackling anti-competitive issues in the U.S. with a new Executive Order. Signed Friday at the White House, the Order could have a sweeping impact on agriculture and corporate business, covering competition in airlines to equipment manufacturers.
The order includes changes to fight anti-competitive practices in agriculture, including the controversial “Right to Repair” topic. Overall, the White House says the executive order will include 72 initiatives by more than one dozen agencies to “tackle some of the most pressing competition problems across our economy.”
Included in the Fact Sheet released by the White House Friday morning, the 72 initiatives include:
- Save Americans money on their 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.
- Make it easier and cheaper to repair items you own by limiting manufacturers from barring self-repairs or third-party repairs of their products.
- Empower family farmers and increase their incomes by strengthening the Department of Agriculture’s tools to stop the abusive practices of some meat processors.
- Increase opportunities for small businesses by directing all federal agencies to promote greater competition through their procurement and spending decisions.
While the sweeping Executive Order covers a wide range of industries, specifically to agriculture, the White House says the Order:
- Directs USDA to consider issuing new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act making it easier for farmers to bring and win claims, stopping chicken processors from exploiting and underpaying chicken farmers, and adopting anti-retaliation protections for farmers who speak out about bad practices.
- Directs USDA to consider issuing new rules defining when meat can bear “Product of USA” labels, so that consumers have accurate, transparent labels that enable them to choose products made here.
- Directs USDA to develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive a fair return, including supporting alternative food distribution systems like farmers markets and developing standards and labels so that consumers can choose to buy products that treat farmers fairly.
- Encourages the FTC to limit powerful equipment manufacturers from restricting people’s ability to use independent repair shops or do DIY repairs—such as when tractor companies block farmers from repairing their own tractors.
The President’s actions to address the issue over equipment owners’ “right to repair” their own equipment was first reported by Reuters on Tuesday. Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) pointed out while the topic was addressed in the Order, equipment owners can already perform most repairs on their equipment.
“Equipment manufacturers have always supported farmers’ right to repair their own equipment and remain committed to providing them with tools and information needed to reduce downtime and maximize productivity. President Biden’s Executive Order does not change that,” says Stephanie See, Director of State Government Relations, Association of Equipment Manufacturers. “Farmers can already perform most repairs on their equipment. In some rare cases, where access to proprietary source code is necessary, a certified service technician may need to perform the repairs. Equipment manufacturers do not, however, condone illegal tampering, including modifications that are illegal, unsafe, and harmful to the public and the environment. We look forward to working with the Federal Trade Commission as they consider next steps and look forward to sharing our perspective with them in the coming weeks.“
The Order could also impact rural Americans searching for affordable broadband, as the President will now require providers to report prices and subscription rates to the FCC.
Following the President’s Executive Order signing, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack is holding a press conference in Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he’s expected to announce $500 million in funding for small and medium meat processors. The announcement will be live-streamed.