Members of a House Agriculture subcommittee expressed deep concern with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed rule on livestock and poultry contracts and marketing arrangements, a regulation that would limit pork producers' options in selling pigs to processors, according to the National Pork Producers Council.
Reps. David Scott, D-Ga., and Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Agriculture Committee's Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Subcommittee, in a hearing last week said they are troubled that the proposed rule amending the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) goes beyond the congressional intent of the 2008 Farm Bill. The legislation authorized USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to issue rules clarifying certain provisions of the PSA and implementing new ones related to capital investments, arbitration and poultry contracts.
Broad scope of the rule
Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who attended the hearing, and other subcommittee members also voiced concerns with the broad scope of the rule and its likely adverse effects on the livestock and poultry industries. One panel member said the rule would put livestock producers in his district out of business. Some lawmakers who participated in crafting the 2008 Farm Bill pointed out that Congress chose not to act on some proposals now included in the GIPSA rule they because would disrupt and destroy the U.S. livestock industry.
“Several of the rule's provisions go further than what was required by the Farm Bill,” said NPPC President Sam Carney. “NPPC believes the proposed rule is overly broad and very vague, with many terms not well defined. As written, it appears the rule would have a negative effect on the ability of pork producers to enter into arrangements to produce hogs under contracts and to sell hogs through marketing arrangements.”
Panel members also expressed concern that GIPSA – so far – has refused to extend for the “most significant regulation on livestock markets in nearly 100 years” the 60-day period for submitting comments on the rule. The current deadline is Aug. 23.
Two weeks ago, 22 members of the House Agriculture Committee signed a letter to USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack requesting an extension of the comment period for 120 days past an Aug. 27 “workshop” on competition in the livestock industry in Ft. Collins, Colo.