The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced it is withdrawing the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) interim final rule on competitive injury, and its proposed rule on unfair practices and undue preferences. After a 180-day extension of the comment period, the interim final rule was scheduled to go into effect on October 19.
“I want to thank Secretary Perdue for USDA’s thorough and meaningful review of these controversial rules that would have opened the floodgates to frivolous and costly litigation,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown. “It is clear the administration took into account the thousands of comments it received and recognized these rules would have come with deep economic consequences for American poultry and livestock producers.”
The NCC pointed out that eight different circuit courts of appeal have addressed a key issue underpinning the rules—the need to prove competitive injury to demonstrate a violation—and they have uniformly and resoundingly rejected the position advanced by GIPSA in these three rules. Rather than acquiesce in these decisions, however, the Obama administration sought to misuse the rulemaking process to achieve what GIPSA has not won in court.
“We are also pleased that USDA decided not to issue a final rule on the performance based poultry grower ranking system, a system where more efficient farmers are paid premiums based on their performance.” Brown added. “Rather, the department will continue to study this and we look forward to continuing to work with USDA to help explain the merits of a system that has benefited farmers, chicken processors and consumers for seven decades.”
Brown also stressed that today’s livestock and poultry contracting and marketing practices are already and remain regulated by GIPSA, which administers and enforces the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect farmers, ranchers and consumers, and farmers already benefit from the protections of the Act.
North American Meat Institute President and CEO Barry Carpenter also applauded the announcement.
“We appreciate Secretary Perdue and the agency carefully considering the many comments submitted, including strong opposition from many livestock and poultry producers who recognized the interim final rule would have greatly harmed the entire industry,” said Carpenter. “The Secretary and his staff recognized the considerable harm the rule would have done to those farmers and ranchers, as well as consumers, retailers, and meat packers and processors.”
The Meat Institute said that the IFR would have greatly limited marketing agreements that allow the industry to meet consumer demand for various animal handling and production requirements, such as organic, grass fed, raised without an antibiotics and others, limiting the availability of these products for consumers.
“The Meat Institute has long argued the IFR was inconsistent with the existing statute, years of judicial precedent, and the will of Congress, with a price tag in the billions. The administration’s fresh look shows it’s time to move on from this irresponsible rule,” Carpenter said.
Sources: NCC, NAMI