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Vilsack Urged to Withdraw Proposed GIPSA Rule

by 5m Editor
23 May 2011, at 11:58pm

US - More than one-third of the members of the House of Representatives called on Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, last week to go back to the drawing board with a rule on the marketing of livestock and poultry proposed by the USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

"Withdrawing the June 22, 2010, proposed rule and re-proposing a revised rule once the Department completes its economic analysis would allow stakeholders the opportunity they deserve to comment on what we hope will be substantial changes to the proposed rule more consistent with the intent of Congress outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill," said a letter signed last week by 147 members, according to the National Chicken Council (NCC).

"I am grateful for the action taken by so many members of Congress in urging the Secretary of Agriculture to withdraw and re-propose the GIPSA rule,” said Mike Brown, president of the NCC. "This would allow dialogue to resume between affected industries and USDA, a dialogue that was cut off by the end of the comment period in November. The GIPSA rule clearly needs more careful review in light of its impact on economic growth, jobs, and the administration’s stated goal of doubling exports."

The rule proposed by GIPSA would make profound changes in the relationship between ranchers and farmers who produce cattle, swine, chickens, and turkey, and the companies that bring meat and poultry products to market. GIPSA wrote the proposed rule in response to four specific mandates in the last Farm Bill after debate in which several other proposed mandates were rejected.

"Congress provided a narrow set of issues for the Department to address," the letter continued. "It is troubling that the Department appears to be using the rule-making process to accomplish objectives specifically rejected by Congress, and we are confident any such rule will not be looked upon favourably by Congress."

USDA published the proposed rule last year with only a cursory economic analysis, and Secretary Vilsack has agreed to conduct a more detailed analysis before a final rule is published.

"Particularly in a climate in which additional scrutiny is being applied to regulations seen as overreaching or overly burdensome, we urge the Department to proceed in a transparent manner that allows for those most impacted by this action a chance to comment on not only pending changes to the proposal but the accompanying economic analysis as well," the letter added.

The members also asked for an update from Secretary Vilsack on the timeline for completion of the economic analysis and further action on the proposal. Those signing the letter include both Republicans and Democrats and a majority of the members of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Dairy, Livestock, and Poultry.