GIPSA proposal out of mothballs

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has notified livestock industry groups that it will move forward with proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) rules proposed in 2010.

Despite the proposals lying dormant since the effort was defunded by Congress, the USDA says three separate rulemakings are under development. "These will include an interim final rule addressing the scope of Sections 202(a) and (b) of the Packers and Stockyards Act; a proposed rule to address unfair practices and undue preferences in violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act; and a proposed rule addressing poultry grower ranking systems."

Both the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the North American Meat Institute oppose the changes and note that Congress defunded the effort six years ago because it would limit producers' marketing options, add layers of bureaucracy and promote litigation.

"The GIPSA rules, as they pertain to cattle producers, are extremely troubling to our industry at a time when we are already grappling with volatile futures markets and a fragile cash market," said NCBA President Tracy Brunner in a news release. "Rather than working to help ensure producers have accurate price information in a productive way, like ensuring Mandatory Price Reporting is a critical government function, unaffected by future government shutdowns; USDA is expending time and resources to push forward outdated rules to regulate an industry that never requested their assistance. These rules were flatly rejected by cattle producers six years ago and a strong bi-partisan majority in Congress expressed their continual disapproval through a half-decade of defunding."

In a statement supporting the rule, National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson said, "Livestock producers and poultry growers have been waiting too long for much needed protections against the fraudulent, anti-competitive practices they fall victim to in the marketplace. We applaud USDA for staying committed to publishing rules that seek to protect producers, growers, consumers and the industry alike."

USDA has said they will provide additional opportunity for public comment on all the rules and will announce if any amendments will be made.

"NCBA and our members have been engaged with USDA, even while the implementation of these rules was defunded," said Brunner. "Unfortunately, once again, this Administration has disregarded producer input and moved forward with regulations that would cause irreparable harm. USDA's opportunity for future comment is a hollow offer when they should have engaged with the industry before moving forward."