Following months of progress on the long-awaited Farmer Fair Practices Rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), which would provide needed contract protections for livestock producers and poultry growers, National Farmers Union (NFU) was pleased by today’s administrative step forward in the process towards publishing the rules later this year.
USDA plans to publish an interim final rule and two proposed rules this year that would help balance the relationships between producers and meat packers in the concentrated livestock and poultry industries.
“Livestock producers and poultry growers have been waiting too long for much needed protections against the fraudulent, anti-competitive practices they fall victim to in the marketplace. We applaud USDA for staying committed to publishing rules that seek to protect producers, growers, consumers and the industry alike,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
The 2008 Farm Bill sought to mitigate abusive contracting and marketing practices in the highly concentrated livestock and poultry sectors. However, lawmakers repeatedly blocked USDA from fully implementing the law through an annual appropriations rider until late last year when that rider was omitted from the congressional appropriations omnibus bill.
USDA worked for the last several months to extensively review past comments and consider economic impacts as they updated the previously proposed regulations. Though some have disagreed on the policy, Johnson explained that both producers and consumers “benefit from the competitive, transparent markets that these rules will help protect.”
“We support USDA’s approach to provide an interim final rule that will provide certainty for family livestock producers and poultry growers. We look forward to seeing these rules published following review by the Office of Management and Budget, and we look forward to an opportunity for the public to review, understand, and offer feedback,” he added.
Earlier this year, NFU was appalled by the House Appropriations Committee attempt to stall the progress made by USDA by adding a rider into their Fiscal Year 2017 budget bill that would block final implementation of the rules. While the Senate Appropriations Committee did not include the provision in their spending bill, Johnson explained that NFU will be closely monitoring the development of the appropriations omnibus bill.
“Last year, Congress made the right decision to eliminate the GIPSA provision from the final budget bill, supporting family livestock and poultry farmers who have long-waited for the protections of these rules. We urge Congress to take the same action this year and keep the GIPSA rider out of the omnibus bill,” Johnson concluded.