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Ag groups: Hear, hear for 180-day GIPSA extension

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The USDA announced Tuesday that there will be a 180-day extension effective date on GIPSA interim final rule and several ag groups approve.

The Farmer Fair Practices Rules, written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), includes two proposed regulations and an interim final rule, the latter of which now is set to become effective Oct. 19.

“This is another step toward common sense and away from counterproductive government intrusion in the free market,” said NCBA President Craig Uden. “That said, while a delay is welcome, ultimately this rule should be killed and American cattle producers should be free to market our beef without the threat of government-sanctioned frivolous lawsuits.”

Current systems, that allow producers to market their cattle as they see fit, reward them for producing the higher-quality beef that consumers demand. Under the interim final rule, USDA or a producer no longer needs to prove true economic harm. Instead, one only needs to say that he or she was treated “unfairly” to file a damaging lawsuit that could discourage cattlemen from continuing to invest in improving the quality of beef being produced.

“Trial lawyers are salivating at the prospect of this rule becoming the law of the land,” Uden said. “If this rule isn’t killed once and for all, cattle producers will lose nearly all incentive to invest in the production of higher-quality beef. That would mean less revenue for producers and lower quality for consumers. That’s a lose-lose proposition and exactly why the rule needs to not only be delayed – it needs to be killed outright.”

An Informa Economics study found that the GIPSA Rule today would cost the U.S. pork industry more than $420 million annually – more than $4 per hog – with most of the costs related to PSA lawsuits brought under the “no competitive injury” provision included in the interim final rule.

“We’re extremely pleased that the Trump administration has extended the time it has to review this regulation and the public comments on it, which will show the devastating effects this rule would have on America’s pork producers,” said NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill. “The regulation likely would restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry – putting farmers out of business – and increase consumer prices for meat.”

“It is clear that a one-size-fits-all approach to the Agriculture Department’s Farmer Fair Practices Rules does not work across the board for all livestock sectors. The announced delay in the rules’ effective date until October will give farmers and ranchers additional time to comment on this important issue,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. ““We support preserving the contract and marketing arrangements that are working for the beef and pork sectors, and we will reinforce that point during the comment period. There is still vast room for improvement, however, in efforts to ensure a level playing field for poultry farmers. We will continue to emphasize the need to seek additional safeguards in the poultry sector to better protect individual farmers from discriminatory treatment, without disrupting the business practices that are working in the beef and pork sectors.”

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry has a proven track record of fighting the GIPSA rule since 2010, along with Congress repeatedly voicing its disapproval over the past seven years.

“I commend USDA for extending the effective date of this disastrous rule. This extension will allow for the incoming Secretary of Agriculture to fully analyze the effects of the rule and consider the recently submitted public comments. The Kansas Livestock Association had it right when they said, “the interim final rules ignores the comments submitted by thousands of cattle producers in opposition to the rule, the decisions of eight separate federal appellate courts and the intent of the language included by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill,” said Chairman Roberts. “The Obama administration made the imprudent decision to finalize this rule on their way out the door. I hope the Trump Administration’s USDA will finally heed the concerns of farmers and ranchers and the Congress to get rid of this unneeded and unwanted rule.”

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect those of AGDAILY. Comments on this article reflect the sole opinions of their writers.
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