The U.S. Cattlemen's Association (USCA), on November 22, filed comments with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the agency's proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) livestock marketing rules. In its comments, which can be viewed at, USCA proposed certain clarifications in specific sections of the rule while fully supporting the intent of the rule to enhance price discovery and restore competition to the marketplace.

"Without a doubt, USDA's proposed rules have led to a great deal of public debate," noted Allan Sents, USCA Region VIII Director and Marketing Chairman. "We remain concerned about the misinformation being circulated and the exploitation of producer fear by opponents of the rules, most of which is nonsense," noted Allan Sents, USCA Region VIII Director and Marketing Chairman. "The intent of the proposed rules is not to, in any way, discourage paying different prices for livestock yielding differently valued meat products or to in any way discourage the growth of such programs or stifle the introduction of new programs to the market. We anticipate that these rules will provide integrity to the market, prevent manipulation of prices on the open market and in marketing agreements, while at the same time improving transparency and the opportunity for value-based market opportunities. These rules will close loopholes in existing laws that have led to judicial uncertainty and inconsistency culminating in judicial rulings that have further confused the issues, leaving producers at risk. USCA has suggested reasonable and logical language changes in the rules that will provide clarity."

Critics have contended that the proposed rules go beyond the mandate of the 2008 Farm Bill. However, those same critics fail to recognize the authority and obligation to protect the markets that are already in place under the law. "USCA has been consistently adamant that nothing in the rules should stifle or depress a producer's ability to participate in downstream activities and the comments filed with USDA reflect that position," said Sents. "An expected outcome should be extended trading windows and greater market access for more producers."

"USCA commends the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice for engaging producers across the country in the debate over these proposed rules," continued Sents. "Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder have brought a new dimension of transparency to the public conversation about livestock market functions and performance. An historic level of comments have been filed, from which some alterations to the rules will emerge that add clarity and strength."