The National Farmers Union visited with the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture and U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee members to brief them on NFU’s perspective of the Grain Inspection and Stockyards Administration proposed rule. The briefing panel was comprised of Craig Watts, contract poultry grower from North Carolina, Bob Mack, cattle feeder from South Dakota, and Alan Hoefling, an Iowa pork producer.

“The voices of U.S. producers are the important to be heard through this rulemaking process,” said Roger Johnson, NFU president. “U.S. family farmers and ranchers have been at the mercy of packers for far too long. The proposed rule is essentially a Farmer and Rancher Bill of Rights.”

NFU cited that in 1980, the U.S. had 660,000 hog farms (any location with one hog), while only 67,000 remain today. Thirty years ago there were 1.3 million beef cattle operations, but only 950,000 today. The GIPSA rule would prevent packers and processors from abusing their market power and would protect the rights of producers, NFU contends.

“The current system is broken, and now is the time to make a change,” said Johnson. “Some aspects of the proposed rule would benefit from additional clarification, but overall the rule is a much-needed regulatory measure to increase competition and allow access to fair markets for farmers and ranchers.”

The rule does fall within the scope of GIPSA’s authority granted by the Packers and Stockyards Act and was developed in response to five points outlined the 2008 Farm Bill. It is those five points and whether the proposed rule addresses those five areas or moves beyond them that has stirred significant debate. The comment period on the proposed rule ends on Nov. 22.

Source: National Farmers Union