The House Appropriations Committee Tuesday voted to approve legislation that funds USDA and other agencies for fiscal year 2012 but denies money for USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to advance and finalize a proposed rule covering livestock and poultry marketing.
The proposed legislation was welcomed by agriculture groups including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, and the National Turkey Federation.
NCBA President Bill Donald, a Melville, Mont. rancher, said the legislation will prevent government intervention into the private marketplace. “This is the first step in preventing an unprecedented government invasion into the private marketplace,” said Donald. “The marketplace works well without government intrusion and this legislation is proof that many in Congress feel the same way.”
The 2008 Farm Bill authorized USDA to advance and enact new regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act to address livestock and poultry contracts.
“The Obama administration said it would be open and transparent, but on this rule, USDA has not been,” said Doug Wolf, NPPC president and pork producer from Lancaster, Wis. “The language in the agriculture appropriations bill will give livestock and poultry producers a much-needed timeout on the GIPSA rule and prompt the agency to write a regulation consistent with what Congress asked it to do and to adhere to the law in writing a new rule.”
John Burkel, NTF’s secretary-treasurer and a turkey producer from Badger, Minn., said the GIPSA rule will result in job losses and negatively impact a variety of farmers, including limiting their ability to enter into marketing agreements. “The more than 1,000 family farmers who raise turkeys in this country rely on production and marketing contracts to make a living,” said Burkel. “As one of those farmers, I commend the House Appropriations Committee for putting the brakes on this rule.”
Along with government intrusion into private business, the organizations also criticized the USDA’s rulemaking process. While it subsequently agreed to perform a cost-benefit analysis, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has denied requests to open the analysis to public comments despite a bipartisan letter from members of Congress. The bi-partisan letter signed by 147 House members highlighted the concerns about the process and said the USDA should withdraw and re-propose.