Senators urge Vilsack to implement proposed GIPSA rule on livestock & poultry markets

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, Aug. 13 – Twenty one U.S. senators wrote USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Friday urging him to implement USDA’s proposed rules to restore competitive markets and contract fairness to livestock and poultry markets.

USDA’s Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) issued proposed rules in June designed to outlaw preferential pricing, expand producer rights to sue over unfair and deceptive practices, and compel contract fairness for poultry producers. The rules have been widely praised by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), NSAC member groups from all parts of the country, and many other farm organizations.

The senators’ bipartisan letter states, “GIPSA’s authority and responsibility to address the full scope of subject matter covered in the proposed rule is amply supported and justified by the letter and intent of the P&S Act, as amended, and by well-established principles of federal administrative law enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States and other federal courts.”

Some meat and poultry packers and processors and their supporters in Congress are claiming that the proposed rule is without statutory authority. The 21 senators, however, emphasize in their letter to Secretary Vilsack that the new rules are within the directives to the USDA in the 2008 Farm Bill which was enacted by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress.

“These rules are well within both the original intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act as well as the specific language in the 2008 Farm Bill directing rulemaking on undue preference and other issues critical to achieving fair markets for family sized farmers,” said Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “The rules will also clarify for the courts that a basic intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act is to provide a legal remedy and redress for individual farmers and ranchers who show that they have been harmed by unfair or deceptive practices. The farmers and ranchers we represent strongly support this proposed rule as an important first step to address corporate control of the livestock sector and restore a degree of fairness to the marketplace.”

The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register June 22, 2010, vol. 75, p. 35338. Information about the proposed rule is at:

The 21 senators who signed the bipartisan letter are Sens. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Roland Burris (D-IL), Russ Feingold (D-WI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ted Kaufman (D-DE), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Max Baucus (D-MT), Al Franken (D-MN), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mark Udall (D-CO), Michael F. Bennet (D-CO), and Bernard Sanders (I-VT).

To read the Aug. 13 letter to Sec. Vilsack from 21 senators supporting the GIPSA proposal, go to:

To read coverage of a National Chicken Council stealth campaign opposing the proposed new GIPSA rule, go to:

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