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Agricultural News

House Ag Committee Roasts GIPSA Over Proposed Livestock Marketing Rule

Wed, 21 Jul 2010 5:31:01 CDT

House Ag Committee Roasts GIPSA Over Proposed Livestock Marketing Rule House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., held a hearing on Wednesday to review livestock and related U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill. And the lawmakers had one thing primarily on their mind- the so called GIPSA rules (click here for the proposed rules that were released back in June with a 60 day comment period attached.). Starting with Subcommittee chair Scott and moving on from there- member after member roasted USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos as well as the Administrator for GIPSA, J Dudley Butler.

Calling the proposed marketing rules "the most significant changes in hearly a hundred years" when it comes to marketing of livestock, Subcommittee Chair Scott lamblasted the Obama Administration for drafting these rules as they claimed they were implementing the 2008 Farm Law- when in fact many of the controverisal parts of the GIPSA rule were discussed by the House Ag Committee during the writing of the bill and rejected as bad policy. Avalos defended the rule- saying it reflects what USDA Secretary Vilsack heard as he traveled the country listening to concerns of farmers and ranchers- and that they were designed to help "repopulate rural America."

Members also expressed outrage that USDA and GIPSA seemed to be fast tracking the rule- and demanded they rethink the 60 day comment period, indicating that members on both sides of the aisle want an extension to 120 days to further digest what all these rules may mean to livestock producers.

"Fair and transparent markets are necessary for orderly commerce between producers, packers, processors, retailers, and consumers. At the same time, we owe it to our constituents to ensure that the policy process is also fair and transparent so that the path of good intentions does not lead us to the land of unintended consequences. That's why today's hearing is important, but I'm also disappointed that that GIPSA rule comment period is only 60 days and will close before the USDA/DOJ workshops on this subject are completed. For this reason, 21 of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle joined me in requesting that the comment period be extended 120 days so that the USDA/DOJ workshops can be completed and a thorough analysis can be conducted by everybody wishing to comment on the rule," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas.

Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who attended the hearing, and other subcommittee members also voiced concerns with the broad scope of the rule and its likely adverse effects on the livestock and poultry industries. One panel member said the rule would put livestock producers in his district out of business. Some lawmakers who participated in crafting the 2008 Farm Bill pointed out that Congress chose not to act on some proposals now included in the GIPSA rule they because would disrupt and destroy the U.S. livestock industry.

"Several of the rule's provisions go further than what was required by the Farm Bill," said National Pork Producers Council President Sam Carney. "NPPC believes the proposed rule is overly broad and very vague, with many terms not well defined. As written, it appears the rule would have a negative effect on the ability of pork producers to enter into arrangements to produce hogs under contracts and to sell hogs through marketing arrangements."

Regarding a possible extensioin, Avalos only promised that USDA would soon decide on an extension or not- claiming that while some were asking for an extension- many other groups want the fasttrack to continue. He cited R-Calf and NFU in that second category- and also a letter orchestrated by R-Calf that was signed off by 57 smaller groups all agreeing with the R-Calf call to hustle the rule making process through and end the accepting of comments in August, just before the next Competition Workshop planned for by the Administration.

Click on the Listen Bar to hear the opening Q&A between Subcommittee Chair David Scott of Georgia and Avalos- then you will hear comments from GIPSA Head Butler and then ranking subcommittee member Neugebauer.


Subcommittee Chair David Scott of Georgia begins the questioning on Tuesday of USDA's Edward Avalos.
right-click to download mp3


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