The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is extending the comment period for its proposed rule titled Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments for an additional 15 days, through August 23. The proposed rule published in the Federal Register June 8, 2022, with comments originally due on or before August 8. USDA is accepting comments at regulations.gov, and comments may be submitted anonymously.
USDA is taking these steps to help ensure the integrity of the Federal rulemaking process and to ensure all parties have the opportunity to fully comment.
“There is fear throughout the meat and poultry industry as we saw earlier this year at two separate Congressional hearings where witnesses did not testify due to concerns of retaliation,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “But it is still critical that we hear the full story, so we are highlighting the option for comments to be provided anonymously.”
Information regarding the proposed rule and commenting process is also now available in a recorded webinar, posted on the AMS website. The webinar provides information regarding the proposed rule to protect American poultry growers from abuses and enhance competitiveness in U.S. livestock and poultry markets. Information is included in the webinar to instruct anyone who wishes to comment but may want to do so anonymously.
“We fully respect the ability for all parties to communicate and share their views—with each other, with third parties, and with USDA,” said Vilsack. “However, it is paramount that all parties respect different viewpoints and guard against coercive actions that compromise the free flow of facts and viewpoints into important agency actions.”
“We take the public comment process seriously and want all members of the public to freely express their views on our proposed regulations. I am very interested in hearing from those with knowledge of any party prohibiting the free expression of views during the public comment process,” said Vilsack.
Separately from the comment process under the proposed rule, we underscore that complaints of undue or unreasonable prejudices or disadvantages or retaliation can be reported through the USDA-DOJ joint complaint portal: farmerfairness.gov. Reports filed through the portal will be received by the Packers and Stockyards Division (PSD) of the USDA and DOJ, which may refer violations to the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General as appropriate. Tips, complaints or concerns through the USDA-DOJ joint complaint portal can be made anonymously and, if contact information is provided, confidentiality will be protected to the fullest extent possible under the law.
Individuals may also report potential tips, complaints, and concerns to PSD via the PSD Hotline at 1-833-Dial PSD (1-833-342-5773) or directly to the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General or 202-690-1202.