Five livestock industry groups recently reached out to USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack to urge him to reopen public comments if the USDA decides to proceed with portions of the controversial Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule proposed in 2010.
According to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the rule would limit farmers’ ability to sell animals, dictate the terms of private contracts, make it harder to get farm financing, raise consumer prices and reduce choices, stifle industry innovation, and lead to more vertical integration in the livestock industry.
In a letter sent to Vilsack and GIPSA Administrator Larry Mitchell on Monday, leaders of the NPPC, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, North American Meat Institute, National Chicken Council, and National Turkey Federation reiterated their opposition to the rule and urged the USDA to “abandon the Proposed Rule because of the significant adverse effect adopting it would have on the meat and poultry industry.”
On reopening the comment period, the groups argued that it has been more than six years since the proposed GIPSA rule was passed into publication. The proposal initially received tens of thousands of comments opposing the rule, including more than 16,000 from the pork industry alone.
As the letter stated, “If the agency relies only on the administrative record as it existed when the common period closed in November 2010, it is affirmatively choosing to ignore the many changes in and evolution of the livestock, meat, and poultry industry during the past six years and would publish a rule on a record that could only be described as stale and not developed in a ‘timely fashion.’”
The letter cites three projects in varying development statements, including the Clemens Food Group plant slated to open in Coldwater, Mich., next fall, a Seaboard Foods/Triumph Foods plant expected to open in Sioux City, Iowa, in July 2017, and the Prestage Foods plant in Wright County, Iowa, that will begin construction next spring.
Some of these facilities, the group argues, are owned by livestock producers rather than conventional meat processors.
An Informa Economics study of the proposed rule found that it would have cost the U.S. agricultural economy almost 23,000 jobs, reduced GDP by $1.56 billion annually and cost the pork supply chain $333 million a year.
Earlier this year, the NPPC stressed that “significant” benefits the pork industry would see from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement would be wiped out if GIPSA were implement. Read more here.
In April, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the fiscal 2017 agricultural bill that would prevent the USDA from implementing GIPSA. The rider, supported by NPPC and sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., passed on a 26-24 vote.