Congress set to cut money for meat industry reform

By CHRISTOPHER LEONARD | November 15, 2011 | 5:30 PM EST

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Congress is set to strip funding for key provisions of a sweeping antitrust rule the Obama administration proposed for meat companies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday a final version of an agricultural spending bill would prevent it from enforcing parts of a new rule governing how chicken companies pay their farmers.

The bill also strips funding for a reform making it easier for farmers to sue companies for anti-trust violations.

The USDA says that if the bill passes it will no longer pursue those reforms.

The meat industry has been lobbying heavily against the reforms proposed last June. The companies claim the new rules would hinder their operations and raise meat prices.

Many small farmers say the changes would give them more bargaining power when selling their animals.