The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a final rule for the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) yesterday. USDA refers to the rule as common sense protections to restore fairness and reduce the burden for farmers seeking justice under the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement joined by National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson and Mike Weaver, president of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias – both of whom strongly support the action. Listen to it here: USDA presser on Farmer Fair Practices Rule
The news was received well by the American Farm Bureau Federation. President Zippy Duvall said that the rule takes an important step toward leveling the playing field in the poultry industry by ensuring companies follow the law and treat farmers fairly, without disrupting beef and pork markets.
“A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work here, and that’s why we have also worked to preserve the contract arrangements and marketing practices that make the beef and pork industries competitive,” said Duvall. “These proposed rules will strengthen GIPSA’s ability to evaluate business practices in the poultry industry and better protect individual farmers from discriminatory treatment. America’s chicken farmers have long called for greater transparency and a level playing field in our industry, and we appreciate USDA’s efforts to hold companies accountable and give farmers a voice.”
Tracy Brunner, NCBA president, said these provisions are very similar to the 2010 proposed rules that industry groups have consistently voiced concern over, and that Congress has repeatedly defunded the rules due to the staggering harm they would cause industry.
“USDA is going well beyond their statutory limitations, limiting marketing options for a product that America is demanding,” said Brunner.” If USDA was interested in real solutions rather than increased government regulations, they wouldn’t have rushed these rules out the door at the very close of the Administration’s term, bypassing any input from industry. Cattlemen and women don’t appreciate Secretary Vilsack throwing a grenade in the building as he abandons it.”
A statement from NPPC refers to the new rule as “an apparent attack on rural America for its role in helping elect Donald Trump as president,” and believes the regulation will restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry, and increase consumer prices for meat.
“I can’t imagine a more devastating regulation on an industry,” said NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “The rule, which creates legal uncertainty, will destroy opportunities for many in the U.S. pork industry, with no positive effect on competition, the regulation’s supposed goal.”
“We will be reviewing these rules with a fine-tooth comb and providing comments to the agency. Beyond that, all options are on the table,” he said. “We will be working with the new administration and Congress to create jobs and help rural America prosper, rather than imposing more government regulations that stifle business and growth and threaten American jobs.”