While it welcomed the extension of the comment period on it, the National Pork Producers Council said the U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposed rule on the buying and selling of livestock and poultry will be a disaster for producers.
USDA announced, early this week, a 90-day extension of the public comment period on the regulation that implements sections of the 2008 Farm Bill and amends the Packers and Stockyards Act. The original 60-day comment period was set to end Aug. 23; the new deadline is Nov. 22.
“We are pleased that USDA extended the comment period on the proposed USDA rule,” said NPPC President Sam Carney, “but this thing will be a disaster for pork producers like me who need options for selling our pigs and for managing risks.”
According to a review by NPPC, the rule would dictate the terms of contracts, restrict marketing arrangements, require reams of paperwork, create legal uncertainty and limit producers' ability to negotiate better prices for the animals they sell.
“That's a recipe for stifling innovation, driving up costs, forcing simple contract disputes into court and – given those adverse consequences – compelling packers to own their animals rather than to contract with farmers like me to raise them,” Carney said.
In addition to the extension, USDA issued a “misconception and answer” document on the rule, attempting to clarify six provisions – a highly unusual move, particularly during a public comment period.
“In issuing the 'clarifying' document, it's clear USDA had no idea of the tremendous adverse affects this rule would have on producers,” said Carney. “That said, we not only question why the agency would issue such a document during the public comment period but why it appears to be trying to confuse the plain meaning of the language in the proposed rule.”