Bipartisan group of lawmakers ask USDA to hit reset button on GIPSA rule

By Sara Wyant


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WASHINGTON, May 18 - Led by Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Reid Ribble (R-Wis.), 147 members of the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today, asking for USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration's (GIPSA) to issue a revised rule on livestock and poultry marketing and provide more time to comment on a pending economic analysis and revised rule.


“Withdrawing the June 22, 2010 proposed rule and re-proposing a revised rule once the Department completes its economic analysis would allow stakeholders the opportunity they deserve to comment on what we hope will be substantial changes to the proposal more consistent with the intent of Congress outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill,” the lawmakers wrote.

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The so-called GIPSA rule was first proposed by USDA on June 22, 2010. But under pressure from members of Congress and industry groups, the agency is currently conducting an economic analysis on the proposed rule and reviewing more than 60,000 public comments.


In the bipartisan letter, members pointed out that they provided a “narrow set of issues for the Department to address” during rule-making, after thoroughly debating options during the 2008 Farm Bill writing process.


“It is troubling that the Department appears to be using the rule-making process to accomplish objectives specifically rejected by Congress, and we are confident any such rule will not be looked upon favorably by Congress,” they wrote.


“Particularly in a climate in which additional scrutiny is being applied to regulations seen as overreaching or overly burdensome, we urge the department to proceed in a transparent manner that allows for those most impacted by this action a chance to comment on not only pending changes to the rule and the accompanying economic analysis as well,” emphasized the members of Congress. They also asked for a timeline for completion of the economic analysis and further actions.


NCBA President Bill Donald said the 147 members of Congress stood up for U.S. cattlemen and women.


“The proposed GIPSA rule puts big government smack dab in the middle of our business. It is the most pervasive invasion of federal government into the private marketplace I have ever witnessed,” said Donald, who is a Montana rancher. “I am proud we have leaders inside the Beltway willing to hold this administration accountable for its actions.”


Colin Woodall, NCBA vice president of government affairs, said the elected leaders are holding USDA accountable in a big way. He said it is unprecedented to see an agricultural issue receive this level of bipartisan alignment.


“It is clear that USDA's unpopular rule goes above and beyond the intent of Congress,” said Woodall. “Withdrawing the rule and developing a solution that is consistent with the intent Congress made clear in the 2008 Farm Bill is the only acceptable solution for Secretary Vilsack. This rule absolutely cannot move forward as written.” 


“America's pork producers are grateful to the nearly 150 House members who asked that the proposed GIPSA rule be withdrawn,” said NPPC President Doug Wolf, a pork producer from Lancaster, Wis. “As written, the regulation would be bad for producers, bad for consumers and bad for rural America.


“In writing the GIPSA rule, USDA went well beyond what Congress asked it to do,” added Wolf. “And the regulation it came up with will cost the U.S. pork industry nearly $400 million a year, limit farmers' ability to sell animals, dictate the terms of private contracts, make it harder to get farm financing, raise consumer prices and reduce choices, stifle innovation and lead to more vertical integration of the pork industry.”
To see the text of the letter, click here.  To see a full list of signatures click here.  For an audio recap of NCBA's reaction to the letter, click on 


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