National Chicken Council organizing campaign against USDA's GIPSA proposal
By Stewart Doan
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.
Washington, Aug. 12 – The National Chicken Council (NCC) is urging Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride and other member-companies to get at least 500 “above-average or more successful” contract growers to express their opposition to a proposed USDA crackdown on unfair, fraudulent and retaliatory practices in the procurement of livestock and poultry.
According to documents obtained by Agri-Pulse, NCC states that regulations proposed by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) will “hit the more progressive growers hard, taking money away from them and giving it to growers who are less progressive and have higher costs.”
“So USDA issues a rule to prevent coercion and intimidation of poultry growers by poultry integrators when negotiating contracts, and how do the poultry integrators respond?” complained an ag industry lobbyist who added that the integrators are “leaning” on some growers to participate in a letter-writing campaign opposing the GIPSA proposal.
In a confidential memo to processor representatives, Richard Lobb, NCC’s communications director, wrote that each company should “educate” its growers about the impact of the proposed rule and encourage them to file comments with GIPSA.
“We should have at least 500 (five hundred) unique comments from growers industry-wide expressing an anti-rule point of view. NCC will establish a target for each company to meet in terms of getting comments filed.”
NCC also provided the companies with a “model“ cover letter to distribute to their growers that asserts: “All growers are threatened because the proposed rules would drive innovation, competition and high performance out of the system and reduce the efficiency and competitiveness of the domestic poultry industry.”
The letter adds that the rules, if finalized as proposed, will also open huge new opportunities for litigation that will ultimately benefit only the plaintiffs’ attorneys.
An accompanying five-page explanation of how the proposed GIPSA rulemaking would affect the grower-integrator relationship questions GIPSA Administrator Dudley Butler’s role in drafting the regulations. It describes Butler as a “plaintiffs’ attorney who for over 20 years made his living bringing lawsuits against agribusiness companies. Therefore, it is no surprise that the rules benefit plaintiffs’ lawyers first and foremost.”
NCC argues that GIPSA attempts to modify the so-called “tournament” system of performance-based compensation would leave a grower with no incentive to “work hard, pay attention to his operation, put in the extra time, and invest money in new or improved facilities” and probably make it more difficult for them to obtain loans.
To read the Confidential Memorandum from Richard L. Lobb, NCC, Communications Director, go to: www.agri-pulse.com/uploaded/Chicken_Memo.pdf
To read the “Model cover letter to growers from production manager or other company official,” go to: www.agri-pulse.com/uploaded/Model_Cover_Letter.pdf
To read the NCC's “Information for Growers on the GIPSA Proposed Rules,” go to: www.agri-pulse.com/uploaded/Info_for_Growers.pdf
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