WASHINGTON – May 18, 2011 – More than one-third of the members of the House of Representatives have called on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to go back to the drawing board with a rule on the marketing of livestock and poultry proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’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 by 147 members.
“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 National Chicken Council. “This would allow dialogue to resume between affected industries and the 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 said. “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 favorably by Congress.”
USDA published the proposed rule last year with only a cursory economic analysis, and 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 said. The members also asked for an update from 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.
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.