NeFU Says Secretary of Agriculture Decision to Withdraw the
GIPSA Final Rule is Deeply Disappointing and Frustrating
(October 17, 2017) – Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) president John Hansen said his organization was deeply disappointed with USDA Secretary Perdue’s decision to withdraw the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) proposed final rule. The proposed final rule represents years of hard work, research, and compromise. The proposed final rule would have added language to the current regulations to protect livestock producers from unfair, deceptive and abusive practices by the meatpacking and poultry industries and made it more possible for producers to prove harm to competition.
“In the middle of the worst ag crisis food producers have faced since the mid 1980’s, Secretary of Agriculture Perdue chose to side with the food processing sector whose profit margins continue to soar when he abandoned efforts to fix our broken USDA Packers and Stockyards anti-trust and competition enforcement division. The decision to withdraw the proposed update in the nearly century old USDA Packers and Stockyards language that defines specific practices used by meat packers and poultry processors gave the worst of the worst abusers the “get out of jail free card” because the decision means that USDA Packers and Stockyards will not be able to do their job. is decision negates a massive amount of work and compromise to modernize some key definitions within the current USDA Packers and Stockyards competition language so that agency had the long overdue and badly needed updated definitions they needed to do the anti-trust and agricultural oversight needed to ensure that agricultural markets are competitive and fair,” said NeFU president John Hansen. “When push comes to shove, USDA P&S needs
“The decision to pull the Final Rule at this stage of the rule making process is a slap in the face to the rural voters that overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump. We were hoping the Trump Administration would bring remedy to help restore a more level playing field and more competitive markets. Instead, this decision does not clear up the swamp in Washington, D.C., it puts the economic alligators in the meat and poultry sectors beyond the reach of regulatory oversight by the USDA’s Packers and Stockyards division. The proposed final rule did not change the oversight mission of the USDA Packers and Stockyards division, it simply updated the definitions of what constitutes deceptive, unfair, and abusive practices by meat and poultry processors to meat and poultry producers so that agency can do its designated oversight job,” Hansen said. “
“When the Trump Administration actively takes the side of big business so they can continue to abuse hard working livestock and poultry producers by systematically stealing value from them, make it next to impossible for regulatory recourse by producers when the market place is harmed by non-competitive marketing practices, and legitimizes bullying and retaliation against independent producers, they are certainly not making America great again. Fair is fair, and right is right, and this decision is flat out unfair and wrong,” Hansen concluded.
Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 3,500 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.
OCM Appalled by GIPSA Rule Withdrawal, Calls for Executive Order
Lincoln, NE – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced it will withdraw the Farmer Fair Practices Interim Final Rule, Scope of Sections 202(a) and (b) of Packers and Stockyards Act, and take no further action on the proposed rule, Unfair Practices and Undue Preferences in Violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Thus far, no action has been announced regarding the proposed rule, Poultry Grower Ranking Systems.
The long-awaited Interim Final Rule was set to go into effect on October 19th after several delays, and would have restored the rights of farmers and ranchers who are harmed by a meat packing or processing company’s anti-competitive and unfair practices. It would have clarified and reiterated the USDA’s longstanding position that not all violations of the Packers & Stockyards Act require a showing of harm or likely harm to competition. Under this rule change, an individual farmer or rancher would no longer have had to demonstrate that the entire U.S. market was affected by unfair practices inflicted on him or her and would have been able to seek a fair remedy.
The proposed rule, Unfair Practices and Undue Preferences in Violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act, would have established a list of practices that violate the rule and establish criteria that GIPSA would consider when determining whether a packer, swine contractor, or poultry integrator has engaged in conduct or action that violates the rule.
Mike Weaver, President of the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), offered the following statement:
“This withdrawal is a slap in the face to rural America and America’s farmers and ranchers. The administration is allowing multinational corporations led by foreign interests to hold America’s farmers and ranchers hostage with their monopolistic, retaliatory and predatory practices. The GIPSA rule represented a desperately needed change for farmers and ranchers and I am appalled that the administration would choose to support multinational corporate interests over those of our own farmers and ranchers, especially after campaigning on a promise to drain the swamp and Make America Great Again. Since the USDA cannot get the job done, we call on President Trump to issue an executive order to immediately implement the Farmer Fair Practices Interim Final Rule.”
More information on the history of the Packers & Stockyards Act is available at http://competitivemarkets.com/gipsa/.