H.R. 7606 would establish the Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters within the Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote competition in the food and agriculture sectors. The bill also would authorize that office to investigate and prosecute violations of the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.
H.R. 7606 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to appoint a special investigator to head the new office and to serve as a liaison to the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The special investigator also would consult with the Department of Homeland Security regarding critical infrastructure in the food and agricultural sector.
For this estimate, CBO assumes that the legislation will be enacted late in fiscal year 2022; thus, any costs in 2022 would not be significant.
Using information from the agency, CBO expects that USDA would hire 10 attorneys and other professionals to support the office at a cost of $2 million per year, though costs in 2023 would be lower because it would take time to hire all the staff. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 7606 would cost $9 million over the 2022-2027 period; any spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Because the costs of implementing the bill are subject to future appropriation, CBO did not include the potential effects from behavioral changes (if any) that might result from actions the new office would undertake.