WASHINGTON – Meat, poultry and livestock groups were joined yesterday by the North American Meat Institute in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting public comment if USDA proceeds with certain portions of a livestock and poultry marketing rule from 2010. The meat, poultry and livestock sectors strongly oppose the rule.
Joining the North American Meat Institute on the letter were the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the National Chicken Council, the National Pork Producers Council and the National Turkey Federation.
The letter states, “The opposition expressed six years ago remains as staunch as ever, and we urge the agency to abandon the Proposed Rule because of the significant adverse effect adopting it would have on the meat and poultry industry, particularly the producer community, who will be disproportionately affected.”
The groups involved cited requirements from the White House’s memorandum on transparency and open government that permit comment periods of at least 60 days on proposed rules.
“Although [USDA’s] Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) provided an opportunity for affected stakeholders to comment on the Proposed Rule, more than six years have passed since its publication,” the letter said. “If the agency relies only on the administrative record as it existed when the comment period closed in November 2010, it is affirmatively choosing to ignore the many changes in and evolution of the livestock, meat, and poultry industry during the past six years and would publish a rule on a record that can only be described as stale and not developed in a ‘timely fashion.’”
According to the groups represented by the letter, the Office of the Chief Economist (OCE) has not been a part of the current work being done and was not a part of the original preparation of the proposed rule in 2010. Later the OCE concluded that the economic impact of was greater than originally estimated and was critical of portions of the proposal from that point on.
“Given the time that has passed since the agency published the Proposed Rule six years ago, the undersigned organizations respectfully request that, if the agency still believes one or more of the elements of the Proposed Rule should be considered, the rulemaking on those issues begin anew, or at the very least the comment period be reopened to afford stakeholders a meaningful opportunity to gather and provide updated information about the current state of the livestock industry and everyone who would be affected by the Proposed Rule,” the letter concluded.