National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson issued the following statement after USDA officials sent portions of the June 22, 2010, proposed GIPSA rule to the Office of Management and Budget for final review before implementation:
“NFU is encouraged to see portions of the GIPSA rule advance to the final stages of the regulatory process. The portions of the original rule that have been included in the final rule will provide poultry and pork producers with a degree of protection from abuse by integrators and processors.
“USDA did not yet forward to OMB the most critical parts of the rule, which include a clearer definition of USDA’s interpretation of competitive injury. The competitive injury definitions address the fundamental problems that have plagued the livestock and poultry industries.
“It is time for USDA to act in implementing the GIPSA rule, to give America’s family farmers and ranchers an opportunity to compete in an open and fair marketplace. We’ve lost more than 1.1 million pork and beef operations in the last 30 years and rural America will struggle to absorb any more losses.
“The final and interim final rules do not address any of the issues facing beef producers. A rapidly concentrating marketplace has already hit poultry and pork producers hard. A proactive rule must be put in place to prevent the same fate from befalling ranchers and cattlemen.
“Misleading economic studies of the GIPSA rule, funded by packer-producer organizations, used flawed assertions about the impacts of the rule and claimed that thousands of jobs would be lost, that the rule would cost billions of dollars, and that retail meat prices would increase. In order to make these claims, the studies assumed that all premium programs would be eliminated, used an arbitrary meat retail price increase assumption, and did not take into account the losses that many producers are currently suffering. An economic study is only as good as its assumptions, and the assertions of these studies are not grounded in fact.
“NFU is encouraged to see parts of the GIPSA rule advanced, but much more work has yet to be done. The most critical aspects of the GIPSA rule must be finalized in order to prevent further damage to rural America.”