You may not know it, but much of the deals that take place in the meat packing industry keep all but the biggest players at a serious disadvantage in the marketplace.
As the outbreak of World War I occurred and the cost of living rose, president Woodrow Wilson ordered the FTC to investigate the industry from the "hoof to the table" to determine whether or not there were any "manipulations, controls, trusts, combinations, or restraints out of harmony with the law or the public interest."
The FTC reported packers were manipulating markets, restricting flow of foods, controlling the price of dressed meat, defrauding producers and consumers of food and crushing competition. The FTC, in fact, recommended governmental ownership of the stockyards and their related facilities. (source)
Congress passed the Packers and Stockyards Act on August 15, 1921 as H.R. 6320 and the law went into effect in September 1921.
It has never been enforced to any degree of effectiveness and the same things and worse are still going today.
Recently the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has proposed a bill that would establish rules to enforce the act. This is a major move in the right direction.
The Center for Rural Affairs has the details [more]