USDA announces rules to restore competitive livestock and poultry markets

By Melissa Coon

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, June 18 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday that on June 22, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) will publish a proposed rule to help restore competitive markets and promote fairness in livestock and poultry markets.

“Concerns about a lack of fairness and commonsense treatment for livestock and poultry producers have gone unaddressed far too long,” said Vilsack. “This proposed rule will help ensure a level playing field for producers by providing additional protections against unfair practices and addressing new market conditions not covered by existing rules.”

The rule addresses concerns that have been discussed for many years by providing further definition for unfair practices, prohibiting packers from purchasing, acquiring or receiving livestock from other packers, and outlining protections to improve competition.

“Family farm advocates have called for an end to unjustified price preferences for decades and perhaps we have arrived at the point where the government will get serious about enforcing the law,” said National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition Senior Policy Associate Martha Noble. “Undue and unjustified price preferences for industrial scale factory farms have caused sustainable harm to markets, small and mid-sized farmers, and rural communities.”

NSAC advocated for the rulemaking during congressional consideration of the 2008 Farm Bill and stressed the importance of such rules.

On behalf of NSAC, Nobel applauded USDA for addressing the competitive harm issue. However, she said they would need to read the details of the rule before coming to an assessment of whether further strengthening might be necessary.

“While additional reforms, including a ban on packer ownership and feeding of livestock are necessary to ensure truly competitive markets, this rule represents a giant step forward for both independent livestock producers and contract poultry producers,” said Noble.

To hear Stewart Doan's two-minute audio report on USDA's new livestock and poultry marketing rule, go to:

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