National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson has sent a letter to all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives today urging them to allow USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to continue implementing the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration rule.
The letter was in response to a letter sent by 147 members of Congress to Secretary Vilsack on May 18 asking that the proposed GIPSA rule be scrapped and that a new rule be written.
“The packer-producer and meat packing industries have been wrongly arguing that the 110th Congress rejected the provision that was passed in the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 under the Livestock Title,” said Johnson. “This action requested by the members of Congress is unfortunately based on inaccurate information. Members of Congress were given ample opportunities to propose amendments, vote the bill down on the floor of each body, and to vote against the conference report. This bill even overrode two presidential vetoes, requiring a two-thirds majority vote in both the Senate and House. The 110th Congress strongly supported this bill, including the GIPSA provisions.”
Johnson called on members of Congress to stand up for family farmers and slow the decline in the number of livestock operations across the country. Thirty years ago there were 1.3 million beef cattle operations. Today there are only 740,000. In 1980, there were 660,000 hog farms. Today there are only 67,000. Last year alone, approximately 2,300 additional hog producers went out of business.
“The members of the 112th Congress have the same opportunity to stand up and support rural America,” said Johnson. “They can support the rulemaking process that more than 60,000 Americans took their time to comment on in order to have their voices heard. Asking USDA to re-propose the rule would be telling those Americans that their voices were not the ones we wanted to hear.”