Poultry Groups Hail Appeals Court Decision on Permits

March 15, 2011

March 15, 2011 — The National Chicken Council and U.S. Poultry & Egg Association hailed today’s decision by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wiping out an “onerous and unnecessary” regulation imposed on poultry farms by the Environmental Protection Agency as a “victory for common sense.”

“America’s poultry farmers are good stewards of the land,” NCC and USPOULTRY said in a statement. “EPA’s requirement that farms had to apply for a discharge permit, even though no discharge occurs, was an onerous and unnecessary bureaucratic invention. Getting rid of it is a victory for common sense.”

NCC and USPOULTRY participated in a challenge filed in the court in New Orleans to overturn EPA’s policy that livestock and poultry farmers have a “duty to apply” for discharge permit. Broiler chicken farms keep animals indoors on dry litter systems and do not discharge waste. NCC and USPOULTRY argued in the brief that EPA had no authority to impose a duty to get a permit unless there is an actual discharge.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is dedicated to the growth, progress, and welfare of the poultry industry and all of its individual and corporate interests. Membership includes producers and processors of broilers, turkeys, ducks, eggs and breeding stock, as well as allied companies. Formed in 1947, the association has affiliations in 26 states and member companies worldwide. The group’s mission focuses on research, education, communication, and technical assistance.

CONTACTS: NCC: Richard L. Lobb, (202) 296-2622 ext 119 rlobb@chickenusa.org
USPOULTRY: Gwen Venable, (770) 493-9401 gvenable@poultryegg.org

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NCC, Other Poultry Groups Join Coalition Against Extension of Ethanol Subsidy

March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON – March 1, 2011 — The National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and several state poultry federations are among a vast coalition of 90 organizations opposing extension of the blenders’ credit that subsidizes the production of ethanol. The groups sent letters to the leaders of Congress today calling on them to let the tax credit expire on schedule at the end of 2011. The ethanol industry is lobbying Congress for an extension.

“Congress has the opportunity to end the $6 billion a year subsidy to gasoline refiners who blend corn ethanol into gasoline,” the letter said. “At a time of spiraling deficits, we do not believe Congress should continue subsidizing gasoline refiners for something that they are already required to do by the Renewable Fuels Standard.”

A coalition of 90 business associations, taxpayer advocates, hunger and development organizations, agricultural groups, free-market groups, religious organizations, environmental groups, budget hawks, and public interest organizations today sent the letter to Congressional leadership urging Congress to let the refundable Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) expire and to resist calls for spending on infrastructure for conventional biofuels.

In addition to NCC and USPOULTRY, the letter was signed by the state associations representing the poultry industry in Alabama, California, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

In the letter, the coalition says:

“The undersigned diverse group of business associations, taxpayer advocates, hunger and development organizations, agricultural groups, free-market groups, religious organizations, environmental groups, budget hawks, and public interest organizations urge you to allow the refundable Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit (VEETC) to sunset this year and to resist calls for spending on infrastructure for conventional biofuels.

“In particular, Congress has the opportunity to end the $6 billion a year subsidy to gasoline refiners who blend corn ethanol into gasoline. At a time of spiraling deficits, we do not believe Congress should continue subsidizing gasoline refiners for something that they are already required to do by the Renewable Fuels Standard.

“Experts like the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office have concluded that the subsidy is unnecessary, and leading economists agree that ending it would have little impact on ethanol production, prices or jobs.

“We urge you to let VEETC expire and resist calls for spending on infrastructure for conventional biofuels.”

The following organizations signed the coalition letter:

ActionAid US
Africa Action
Africa Faith and Justice
Alabama Poultry and Egg Association
Alliance of Western Milk Producers
American Bakers Association
American Conservative Union
American Frozen Food Institute
Americans for Limited Government
Americans for Prosperity
American Jewish World Service
American Meat Institute
Beyond Pesticides
California Dairies, Inc.
California Poultry Federation
California Safe Schools
Center for Auto Safety
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for Food Safety
Clean Air Task Force
Clean Water Action
Citizens for Tax Justice
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste
Dairy Producers of New Mexico
Dairy Producers of Utah
Environment America
Environmental Working Group
Foreign Policy in Focus
Freedom Action
FreedomWorks
Friends of the Earth
Heartland Institute
Georgia Poultry Federation
Greenpeace USA
Grocery Manufacturers Association
Idaho Dairymen’s Association
Indiana State Poultry Association
International Center for Technology Assessment
International Dairy Foods Association
John Locke Foundation
KyotoUSA
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
League of Conservation Voters
Maryknoll Office of Global Concern
Milk Producers Council
Mississippi Poultry Association
MoveOn.org
National Audubon Society
National Catholic Rural Life Conference
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Chicken Council
National Meat Association
National Restaurant Association
National Retail Federation
National Taxpayers Union
National Turkey Federation
National Wildlife Federation
Natural Resources Defense Council
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
North Carolina Poultry Federation
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance
Northeast Organic Farming Association — Interstate Council (NOFA-IC)
Northwest Environmental Defense Center
Northwest Dairy Association
Oil Change International
Oxfam America
Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (PLANT)
The Poultry Federation
Public Citizen
Public Interest Research Group (PIRG)
Safe Climate Campaign
The SafeLawns Foundation
Sierra Club
Snack Food Association
South Carolina Poultry Federation
Southeast Milk Inc.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Southern Horticulture
Taxpayers for Common Sense
Tennessee Poultry Association
Texas Poultry Federation
U.S. Poultry and Egg Association
Union of Concerned Scientists
Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth
Virginia Poultry Federation
Washington Cattle Feeders Association
Washington State Dairy Federation
The Watershed Partnership
World Wildlife Fund

NCC Applauds Georgia Governor’s Call for Withdrawal of GIPSA Rule

March 1, 2011

WASHINGTON – MARCH 1, 2011 – Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is right to recommend that the U.S. Department of Agriculture withdraw its proposed rule on the production and marketing of poultry and livestock because it would be “costly and disruptive” and goes beyond the intent of Congress, the National Chicken Council said today.

“Governor Deal’s comments are right on target and should be considered seriously by the Agriculture Department,” said NCC President George Watts. “The proposed rule should be withdrawn and reworked.”

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deal said the rule proposed by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) would “drastically change” the long-standing contractual relationships between poultry companies and the farmers who work with them to raise birds.

“Such a change would undoubtedly create a very costly and disruptive situation in Georgia and across the country where poultry is grown,” Deal wrote.

Deal, an attorney who served in Congress for 18 years before being elected Georgia’s governor last fall, said the GIPSA rule “goes well beyond” the intent of Congress when it directed the agency to make certain changes in its regulations as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. He said Congress had already considered the issue of what is called “competitive injury” and decided that it was being handled appropriately by the courts.

“It would be not only inappropriate but an action exceeding the Department’s regulatory authority to not honor Congress’ mandate on this issue,” Deal said. He said USDA should craft a final rule that “more closely adheres” to Congressional intent.

“Permit me to suggest that the best way to do this is to withdraw the current proposal and reissue a much more acceptable, pragmatic rule,” he wrote.

USDA is in the processing of considering the thousands of comments that were filed on the proposed rule. The agency has set no deadline for finalizing its process.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

Mike Brown Named President of National Chicken Council

February 10, 2011

WASHINGTON – February 10, 2011 – The next president of the National Chicken Council will be Mike Brown, currently senior vice president for legislative affairs of the American Meat Institute, NCC Chairman Bernard Leonard announced today. Brown will join NCC in March to succeed George Watts, who is retiring after 38 years as president.

“The search committee considered many qualified candidates before recommending Mike Brown’s election to the NCC Executive Committee,” said Leonard, who is group vice president/Food Service of Tyson Foods, Springdale, Arkansas. “We believe that Mike is the person who can lead NCC as it addresses the issues that will shape the future of the industry.”

The search committee was assisted by the executive recruitment firm of Kincannon & Reed, an Allied Leader member of NCC. K&R is the only retained executive search firm focused exclusively on the food, agribusiness, and life sciences sectors.

Brown, 50, currently represents AMI to Congress and the Administration on governmental matters. He also serves as the treasurer of AMI’s Political Action Committee, AMI-PAC.

“I look forward to the challenge of working with the chicken industry and following the great tradition of service and effective representation and leadership set by George Watts,” Brown said. “I accept this position with enthusiasm.”

Brown joined AMI in May 1995, after serving eight years as a legislative assistant for former Sen. John Warner (R-VA), focusing on agriculture, food safety, labor, immigration, environment, and international trade issues. Brown also previously worked as a legal publication specialist for the Federal Register, where he was responsible for providing information to Congress, federal agencies, trade associations and others on federal regulations and office programs and publications.

Brown earned his Bachelor of Science in political science and history from the State University of New York, Brockport. Brown and his wife, Kelly, live in Vienna, Virginia.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

Mike Brown, incoming president of NCC

Mike Brown has been named as the new president of National Chicken Council

Poultry Industry Blasts Proposed GIPSA Rule, Urges Agency to Withdraw It

November 22, 2010

WASHINGTON – November 22, 2010 – A massive regulation proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the production and marketing of poultry and livestock is unconstitutional, unsupported by any meaningful economic analysis, and is in defiance of court rulings and Congressional mandates, the poultry industry said in comments filed with the agency today. The proposed regulation should be withdrawn and rewritten, the industry said.

NCC and USPOULTRY Comments on Proposed GIPSA Rule

FARMECON LLC Study of GIPSA Rule 11-16-2010

The industry comments take dead aim at the legal basis for the rule proposed by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), which would force sweeping changes in the relationship between the nation’s chicken companies and the farmers who grow chickens under contracts with the companies.

“The proposed rule is ill-advised, exceeds GIPSA’s statutory authority, and, for some provisions, is unconstitutionally vague,” said a 45-page letter signed by George Watts, president of the National Chicken Council, and John Starkey, president of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. “GIPSA fails to provide an adequate justification for imposing such sweeping and detrimental changes to the poultry industry and does not explain corresponding benefits to counterbalance the hundreds of millions of dollars of detrimental effects this proposal will have on the U.S. economy.”

Today is the final day on which comments on the proposed rule can be submitted to GIPSA. The agency is legally required to consider all comments before deciding whether or how to finalize the rule.

The poultry industry comments said the proposed rule is unconstitutional because it has so many vague and undefined terms that people and companies who have to comply with the rule will not know what is illegal and what’s not. The courts have repeatedly held that regulated entities must have “fair notice” of what is prohibited so that they may comply, especially with regard to what is called “likelihood of competitive injury,” the industry comments said.
“A party subject to the proposed rule, therefore, could not reasonably anticipate, much less determine with any reasonable degree of certainty, what business practices would ultimately be held illegal under these and other provisions,” rendering at least some portions of the rule unconstitutional, the statement said.

The industry comments also objected to the changes proposed by GIPSA in the so-called “tournament” system of compensation for poultry growers, in which more efficient farmers are paid premiums based on their performance. The GIPSA proposal would establish a “base rate” that, in effect, would likely reduce the premiums given to higher-performing growers, the comments said.

“The result would be increased production costs for poultry dealers coupled with a decreasing incentive for growers to deliver high quality chickens because compensation would not be tied to performance or quality,” the comments said.

GIPSA also failed to conduct a thorough economic analysis, which is undoubtedly required by Executive Order, the industry comments said.

USDA’s economic analysis of the rule is “cursory at best” and reaches the “untenable” conclusion that the impact would be less than $100 million per year. If the impact is expected to be more than that, the rule is considered “significant” and the agency would have to conduct a detailed cost-benefit analysis. A study commissioned by NCC concluded that the rule’s impact on the broiler industry alone would be more than $83 million in 2011 and $137 million in 2012, totaling over $1.025 billion in the first five years of enforcement. Studies commissioned by the meatpacking and livestock industries also projected costs far in excess of the $100 million benchmark.

“The agency’s disregard of its obligation to conduct an adequate economic analysis and its unsubstantiated conclusion that this is not a ‘significant regulatory action’ are arbitrary and capricious,” the comments said.

One of the most contentious aspects of the proposed rule is that GIPSA seeks to apply the legal concept of “competitive injury” to interactions between an individual farmer and the company with which the farmer has a contract to grow chickens, rather than to the broader competitive process affecting overall industry output and prices to consumers.

“That position is contrary to the plain language of the statute and the unanimous construction given it by every federal appellate court to have addressed the issue,” the industry comments say. Eight federal courts of appeal have already found that “competitive injury” applies to the broader marketplace, the industry notes, a trend that is directly contrary to the rule proposed by the agency.

The comments noted that in several of those cases, the agency unsuccessfully argued its position directly to the court in question, while in others it filed friend-of-the-court briefs urging the court to adopt its preferred construction.

“Rather than acquiesce in these decisions, however, GIPSA now seeks to misuse the rulemaking process to achieve what it has not won in court,” the industry comments said.

GIPSA was directed to develop certain regulations by the 2008 Farm Bill enacted by Congress. The industry maintains that the agency went far beyond the intent of Congress in drafting the proposed rule.

“Congress gave the agency no authority” to write the regulations that it did, the industry comments said, adding that Congress “considered and expressly rejected” many of the provisions included in the draft regulations.

“Considered in its entirety, the proposed rule seems aimed more at punishing business efficiency and innovation rather than redressing any identifiable economic distortions that might not ordinarily be corrected by market forces,” the comments said. “Congress has not authorized the agency to engage in central planning or empowered it to redistribute income based on its own conception of ‘fairness’ at the expense of rational, legitimate, and efficient business practices that benefit both industry participants and the consumers that they serve.”

GIPSA should withdraw the rule as proposed and rework it to meet the Farm Bill mandate, the industry said.

The National Chicken Council, based in Washington, D.C., represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens, as well as distributors and allied companies. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, based in Tucker, Georgia, is the world’s largest poultry organization, whose membership includes producers of broilers, turkeys, ducks, eggs and breeding stock, as well as allied companies. The Association focuses on research, education, technical services and communications to keep members of the poultry industry current on important issues.

National Chicken Council Decries EPA Decision on Higher Blends of Ethanol in Motor Fuel

October 13, 2010

WASHINGTON – October 13, 2010 — Increasing the amount of ethanol in motor fuel, as authorized today by the Environmental Protection Agency, will eventually hit food shoppers in their pocketbooks, the National Chicken Council said today.

“Rising grain prices driven by the voracious demand for feedstock from the heavily subsidized ethanol industry caused an increase of six percent in the retail price of fresh whole broiler chickens from 2008 to 2010,” said George Watts, president of the National Chicken Council. “Channeling even more corn into ethanol will, in time, only drive up the cost of chicken even more. Consumers will end up paying for the ethanol industry’s demands. It is time to put an end to interference in the market and government mandates that benefit the ethanol industry and raise the price of corn.”

EPA issued a partial waiver to allow gasoline marketers to add up to 15 percent ethanol to motor fuel, a sharp increase from the current limit of 10 percent. EPA acted at the behest of ethanol industry organizations.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

Dr. Oz and Chickens: What Are The Facts?

October 7, 2010

If you saw the “Doctor Oz” show on October 7, 2010, you may be wondering about the chicken you buy in the supermarket. Here’s the key point:

Fresh chicken is a wholesome, safe, nutritious food that is produced and processed under government regulations. Nothing is given to chickens that is not approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Like all fresh (raw) meat and poultry, chicken may have bacteria on it, but these are easily killed by the heat of normal cooking.

The Dr. Oz show raised some questions but provided incomplete answers. Here is some additional information:

Why are antibiotics sometimes given to chickens?

Like all living creatures, chickens are potentially subject to a wide variety of ailments. Antibiotics are sometimes used to control or prevent health problems in the birds. Antibiotics are not used in all flocks. When used in poultry, antibiotics are used in a safe and responsible manner in keeping with principles of judicious use and regulations of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

A withdrawal period is observed to ensure that no antibiotic residues are present when the birds go to processing. The FDA-mandated withdrawal period is included in the directions for every product.

Statements about the amount of antibiotics used in poultry production are greatly exaggerated since they include certain animal health products that are used only in animals and are not used in humans at all. These products have no effect on antibiotic resistance in humans.

Chicken is safe. Any bacteria that may be on raw chicken are easily killed by the heat of normal cooking.

Does giving antibiotics to chickens result in antibiotic resistance in humans?

The fact is that that no scientific study has ever shown that a treatment failure in humans has resulted from the use of antibiotics in chickens. Antibiotics such as tetracycline that are sometimes (although not often) used in chickens are still highly effective and widely used in humans.

On the Dr. Oz show, one of the guests talked about bacteria that are resistant to certain antibiotics. However, this is a natural phenomenon. Ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin were mentioned, but these are not used in chickens at all, so obviously any resistance that occurs to them cannot be connected to chickens. The very extensive use of ciprofloxacin and amoxicillin in human medicine is the likely cause of bacterial resistance to them.

Is arsenic given to chicken?

Some flocks of chickens – not all – are given products that contain roxarsone. As noted on the Dr. Oz show, roxarsone contains organic arsenic – not the inorganic form of arsenic. Roxarsone is used to control microscopic parasites that can otherwise cause illness in the birds. A withdrawal period is provided to ensure that the roxarsone is gone before the birds are processed.

Roxarsone gives the birds a gastrointestinal tract with fewer potentially pathogenic bacteria. Use of roxarsone may also result in improved skin pigmentation because it promotes better gut health, which allows the naturally occurring yellow pigments in the grains and other feedstuffs to be absorbed more efficiently and deposited in the skin by the bird. However, it has no impact on the color of the meat.

The use of roxarsone in poultry has been approved by the FDA for many years.

Are chickens bigger than they used to be?

The typical chicken today is larger than it was many years ago, but this results from better nutrition, better animal husbandry, and selective breeding that is achieved in the normal and traditional manner. There is no genetic modification or bioengineering in poultry.

For more information, see http://www.nationalchickencouncil.com

National Chicken Council Welcomes News of Trade Agreement with Russia

June 24, 2010

WASHINGTON – June 24, 2010 — The National Chicken Council welcomed the news today that Russia has agreed to allow imports of U.S.-produced chicken under certain conditions.

“The reopening of the Russian market is good news for American chicken producers and processors,” NCC President George Watts said in a statement. “We thank President Obama and government officials and members of Congress who were involved in resolving this issue.”

A full assessment of the impact on the U.S. chicken industry depends on the details and implementation of the agreement reached by U.S. and Russian officials and announced today by President Obama. Many members of Congress had urged the President to address the issue in his meetings with Russian President Medvedev.

Before Russia imposed a cutoff of U.S. chicken imports, the trade was worth as much as $800 million per year.

Dozens of members of the House and Senate, including Senators Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas and Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, chairman and ranking minority member respectively of the Senate Agriculture Committee, wrote to President Obama to urge speedy resolution of the issue.

The National Chicken Council is the trade association for vertically integrated chicken production and processing companies. Member companies of NCC account for about 95 percent of the broiler chickens produced in the United States.

GIPSA’s Proposed Rule Is One-Sided and Unrealistic

June 18, 2010

WASHINGTON – June 18, 2010 — The National Chicken Council released the following comment today on the rule proposed by the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration.

NCC will review the draft regulation carefully and make appropriate comments. However, the regulation appears to be one-sided, unrealistic, and not in accordance with court rulings. The likely result will be years of litigation and uncertainty as companies, growers and the government try to sort out the impact on what has been an efficient system for producing an agricultural commodity.

• USDA’s statement that the average chicken company “makes $3.23 a bird” is grossly misleading since that figure is an approximate wholesale value and not the profit, which is only a small percentage of that amount.

• The regulation was clearly drafted to satisfy a small number of activist growers and will do nothing to enhance the business of the great majority of broiler producers who are satisfied with the current system.

• Eight different U.S. circuit courts of appeal have ruled that the Packers and Stockyard Act requires a showing of harm to competition. USDA’s outline of the new rule specifically welcomes yet more litigation by calling for “judicial reexamination of this issue.”

This proposed regulation is not in the best interests of poultry producers, companies, or consumers.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

National Chicken Council Thanks Agriculture Secretary for Purchase Program for Chicken

June 15, 2010

WASHINGTON – June 15, 2010 — The National Chicken Council expressed the industry’s deep thanks today to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for USDA’s purchase program for dark-meat chicken. Secretary Vilsack cited the prolonged trade dispute with Russia as the impetus for the program.

“USDA’s purchase is a timely action that will relieve the industry of excess product while providing high-quality food to needy people here at home – a true win-win,” said NCC President George Watts. “We are delighted to be able to provide this product to the government for distribution to food banks and other outlets.”

Under normal circumstances, companies in the U.S. chicken industry sell more than 700,000 metric tons of chicken legs to Russia every year – about 1.5 billion pounds. Russia closed its market to chicken imports from the U.S. on January 1, 2010, ostensibly because Russian officials objected to the fact that American chicken processing plants use chlorinated water in processing chickens.

Negotiations to resolve the issue have dragged on for several months while product has been placed in cold storage due to the relatively limited domestic market for dark meat. American consumers prefer white meat, and while they also eat plenty of dark meat, they cannot consume all that is produced, considering that the chicken is nearly half dark meat by weight. The product to be sold to the government is the same as normally sold in the domestic market.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

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