NCBA: GIPSA rule creates animal welfare worries

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association shares Dr. Temple Grandin’s concerns that the US Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) proposed rule on livestock marketing poses concerns to animal welfare.

Dr. Grandin, Colorado State University professor and world-renowned animal welfare expert, wrote USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack offering her concerns about the well-being of livestock if the proposed rule requires packers to market and sell livestock through dealers is implemented. (Read “Grandin: GIPSA proposal could compromise animal welfare” in the Oct. 1 posting of Web news in Meatpoultry.com.)

In addition to stress to livestock that would occur if this rule is implemented, Grandin is also concerned the proposed rule would complicate and compromise the effectiveness of many established animal welfare-certification programs by requiring another level of paperwork and recordkeeping to track the additional transactions.

“As a scientist who has dedicated her life to improving livestock welfare, I am extremely alarmed that although this rule is concerned with marketing and competition, the department ultimately responsible for it – USDA – is also charged with enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act and apparently has paid so little attention to the animal welfare implications of this proposal,” Grandin stated in the letter.

Packer-to-packer sales of livestock would be banned by the Obama administration's proposed rule causing many to question the impact to the welfare of livestock. Eliminating packer-to-packer sales would have several unintended consequences, including animal welfare, said Colin Woodall, NCBA vice president of government affairs.

Woodall provided an example illustrating his concerns. “Let’s say there is a beef packer located in the Pacific Northwest that also owns a feedlot in Southwest Kansas,” he said. “Under this proposal, that company would be required to ship all of its Kansas feedlot cattle to Washington State for processing, which subjects those cattle to an additional 1,600 miles of travel.”

Woodall added the packer-to-packer ban would especially hurt smaller producers, dealers and packers. He said the ban would encourage consolidation and displace producer livestock.

“In addition, those cattle that traveled from Kansas to Washington State would displace the local cattle that typically supply that plant,” Woodall said. “The proposal would add inefficiencies for the feedlot through added transportation costs, which could result in the sale or liquidation of that feedlot, thereby driving consolidation and less competition.”
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