Farm groups organize White House call-a-thon to push for final GIPSA rule
By Agri-Pulse staff
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
WASHINGTON, June 22 - Some farm and ranch groups applauded when the Obama campaign pledged to restore open and competitive markets and fair contracts for livestock and poultry producers. When the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) issued a strong rule protecting farmers and ranchers last year, those same groups cheered again. However, their enthusiasm seems to be waning.
Yet, facing strong opposition from members of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and some of the nation's largest livestock organizations, the Administration has yet to issue a final rule. Now, the NFU, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and other farm and ranch organizations that collectively represent thousands of family farmers and ranchers have organized a weeklong call-in campaign to tell President Obama that the GIPSA rule should be issued now.
Three years ago, Congress directed USDA to define and enforce key provisions in the Packers and Stockyards Act outlawing price discrimination against small and mid-sized farmers and other unfair practices. One year ago, the Grain Inspection and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) issued a proposed rule that would reign in some of the worst practices of mega packers and processors.
“The push back from the corporate packers and processors who profit from the status quo has been fierce,” said Ferd Hoefner, NSAC's Policy Director. “Price manipulation, price discrimination and unjust and one-sided contracts have all been very good for their bottom lines.”
Last week, at the behest of the meat and poultry industry, the House passed an agricultural appropriations bill with a rider denying GIPSA any funds to complete their rulemaking process. The bill now moves on to the Senate.
“The National Pork Producers Council is grateful that the House is requiring USDA to take a timeout on the GIPSA rule, which as proposed is bad for farmers and ranchers, bad for consumers and bad for rural America,” said NPPC President Doug Wolf. “And contrary to the proclamations from some general farm groups, the vast majority of livestock and poultry producers strongly oppose this regulation, which would cost them millions of dollars and lead to thousands of lost jobs.”
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