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D.C. News...

published: November 3rd 2017

GIPSA rule withdrawal considered a victory for cattle producers and consumers

WASHINGTON–Colin Woodall, the National Cat-tlemen’s Beef Associa-tion's Senior Vice Presi-dent, Government Affairs, released the following statement in response to USDA’s Oct. 17th decision to withdraw its controversial Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) interim final rule:

“This is a victory for America’s cattle and beef producers – and it’s a victory for America’s consumers. Agriculture Secre-tary Sonny Perdue de-serves a great deal of thanks and credit for this smart decision. The proposed rule would have crippled cattle producers’ ability to market their products through the value-added programs that help make American-produced beef the most delicious and nutritious in the world. This is a decision worthy of celebrating with a top-quality steak.” 

The news came via an advanced Federal Register notice. USDA cited concerns about the potential for increased litigation if the interim final “Fair Farmer Practices” rule, finalized in the last month of the Obama administration, was allowed to go final. That’s in line with arguments from meat and poultry sector industry groups, but far from the interpretation of the rule from groups ideologically aligned with contract growers.

The rule would have removed a requirement that farmers prove competitive injury to the entire industry to issue a challenge under the Packers and Stockyards Act. A change was called for in the 2008 farm bill, but appropriations riders and the rulemaking process prevented USDA from being close to finalizing anything until December 2016, when USDA proposed a final rule.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the rule may be withdrawn, but he still wants USDA and the Grain Inspection, Stockers and Packers Administra-tion (for which the so-called GIPSA rule is named) to be vigilant in protecting contract growers.

“We’ll be watching to make sure that our producers, individually and collectively, are not disadvantaged by unfair, uncompetitive rules that they operate under, and I look forward to doing that,” Perdue said. “We will be having those discussions with the industry – both those who produce and those who process – in a way to make sure that we treat one another fairly and not in a predatory fashion.”

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