The National Pork Producers Council asked for an extension of the comment period on a proposed federal rule that could limit pork producers’ options in selling pigs to processors.
In a letter to J. Dudley Butler, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, NPPC urged a 120-day extension of the comment period, which currently is set to expire Aug. 23.
The proposed rule would implement parts of the 2008 Farm Bill related to livestock and poultry contracts, including establishing criteria under the Packers and Stockyards Act for what constitutes providing or giving undue or unreasonable preference or advantage in a contract.
After a preliminary review, NPPC said the proposed rule goes well beyond the parameters set out in the Farm Bill, specifically with regard to sections on “unfairness,” purchasing practices, contracts, “competitive injury” and recordkeeping.
“Our initial reading of the proposed rule,” said NPPC President Sam Carney, a pork producer from Adair, Iowa, “is that it is overly broad and very vague. We need more than 60 days to determine all of the ramifications this regulation could have on America’s 67,000 pork producers.”
NPPC said the scope of the proposed rule and the lack of an adequate economic analysis of its impact on the livestock industry warrant an extension of the 60-day comment period. The organization also pointed out that the Aug. 23 comment deadline is four days before the next USDA-Department of Justice workshop on competition in the livestock industry. Public comments from that event in Ft. Collins, Colo., as well as ones from the final Dec. 8 workshop in Washington, D.C., should be considered before finalizing a rule, said NPPC.