USDA publishes final rule on '08 Farm Bill provisions

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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WASHINGTON — The US Department of Agriculture has published the Final Rule implementing the 2008 Farm Bill provisions “to better protect livestock producers and poultry growers under the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration [GIPSA]”, announced Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Provisions being finalized by USDA on Dec. 8 were required by the 2008 Farm Bill and were modified from the June 22, 2010, proposed rule. USDA said these sections include points Vilsack can consider when determining whether: a live poultry dealer has provided reasonable notice to poultry growers of suspending delivery of birds; a requirement of more capital investments over the life of a poultry-growing arrangement or swine-production contract constitutes a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act; and if a packer, swine contractor or live poultry dealer has provided a reasonable period of time for a grower to remedy a breach of contract that could lead to termination of a production contract.

Also included in the rule is a section requiring contracts requiring the use of arbitration to include language on the signature page that allows the producer or grower to decline arbitration and provides criteria the USDA Secretary may consider when determining if the arbitration process provided in a contract provides a meaningful opportunity for growers and producers to participate fully in the arbitration process.

USDA intended to get more public comment on several other revised provisions from the June 22, 2010, proposed rule, including changes to the tournament system of payment for poultry growers, requirements to collect and post sample contracts and to address the issue of need for producers to show harm to competition prior to asserting a violation of the Packer and Stockyards Act. But the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill passed by Congress included language prohibiting USDA from moving forward on these provisions.

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