Packers & Stockyards Act Claims

A. Introduction
The Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921 (PSA or Act)1 seeks to
ensure fair business practices and competition in livestock, meat, and live
poultry markets. It does so by regulating numerous aspects of the
production, transfer, and slaughter of livestock and poultry and
proscribing specific categories of related conduct. The Act creates causes
of action for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and private
parties, which allow the imposition of civil penalties, damages, and
injunctive relief for violations by regulated entities, including packers,
stockyards, poultry dealers, and swine contractors.
This chapter first provides an overview of the scope of the PSA,
including the types of regulated persons and proscribed conduct. Next, it
explores the administration and enforcement of the PSA by the USDA.
Finally, this chapter discusses the right to bring a private right of action
asserting violations of the PSA.
B. Regulated Persons
The PSA regulates packers, “stockyards,” live poultry dealers, swine
contractors, and “associated persons” such as market agencies and
dealers. The statute defines each term in detail.
In general, “packers” are persons that manufacture meats from
“livestock” (including beef and swine, but not poultry) or market such
products.2 “Stockyards” are generally persons that provide a forum for
the sale and transfer of livestock between owners and packers.3 A “live
poultry dealer” generally refers to any person that buys poultry for
slaughter, including companies that contract with others under a “poultry
1. Pub. L. No. 67-51, 42 Stat. 159 (codified at 7 U.S.C. §§ 181-229).
2. 7 U.S.C. §191.
3. 7 U.S.C. §202(a).
84 Agriculture and Food Handbook
growing arrangement.”4 Similarly, a “swine contractor” is generally a
person that contracts with others to produce swine.5
The statutory term “associated persons” includes any “market
agency” and any “dealer.” “Market agency” means “any person engaged
in the business of (1) buying or selling in commerce livestock on a
commission basis or (2) furnishing stockyard services.”6 The term
“dealer” means “any person, not a market agency, engaged in the
business of buying or selling in commerce livestock, either on his own
account or as the employee or agent of the vendor or purchaser.”7 Market
agencies or dealers may also be persons employed by stockyards and
C. Proscribed Conduct
The PSA “was enacted to prevent unfair practices, price fixing and
manipulation, and monopolization” by packers.8 The PSA proscribes
seven categories of “unlawful practices.”9 As will be discussed in further
detail, either the USDA or a private party may bring a cause of action for
alleged violations of the PSA.
Specifically, Section 202 makes it unlawful for regulated persons to
do any of the following:
a) “Engage in or use any unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or
deceptive practice or device;”10
4. 7 U.S.C. § 182(a)(10).
5. 7 U.S.C. § 182(a)(12).
6. 7 U.S.C. §201(c).
7. 7 U.S.C. §201(d).
8. Pickett v. Tyson Fresh Meats, 420 F.3d 1272, 1287 (11th Cir. 2005); see
also Wheeler v Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., 591 F.3d 355, 358 (5th Cir. 2009)
(en banc) (observing that the PSA’s objective was “to secure the flow of
livestock from the far ms and ranges to the sl aughtering cente r and into
meat products unburdene d by collusion that und uly lowered the pri ces to
the shipper and undul y increased the price to the consumer”) (citing
Stafford v. Wallace, 258 U.S. 495, 513 (1922)).
9. These practices are enumerated in 7 U.S.C. § 192, but the section is often
referred to as “Section 202,” which was the applicable section number in
the original PSA.
10. 7 U.S.C. § 192(a).

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