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USDA: Funding cut could kill meat industry reforms

APNewsbreak: USDA says it will drop antitrust reforms for meat packers if Congress cuts money By The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) ' The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it will drop some sweeping reforms proposed for the meat industry if Congress cuts money for enforcing the changes.

USDA spokeswoman Courtney Rowe said Tuesday that a final version of an agricultural spending bill passed by a joint committee 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 antitrust violations.

Rowe told The Associated Press the USDA will no longer pursue those reforms if the bill passes. Congress is expected to vote on it Thursday.

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.

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