WASHINGTON – The effective date and comment periods for the Farmer Fair Practices Rules have been extended, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) of the US Dept. of Agriculture said.
The Farmer Fair Practices Rules include an interim final rule and two proposed rules. The deadline for comments on all three Farmer Fair Practices Rules is March 24, and the effective date for the interim final rule is delayed until April 22.
The interim final rule establishes USDA’s long-held position that it is unnecessary to demonstrate that an unfair practice harms the entire market in order to prove a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. A proposed rule regarding unfair practices clarifies what the GIPSA views as practices that clearly violate the act and establishes criteria to protect farmers. The second proposed rule establishes criteria that GIPSA would consider in determining whether a live poultry dealer has engaged in a pattern or practice to use a poultry grower ranking system unfairly.
National Farmers Union (NFU), an organization that represents family farmers and ranchers, expressed frustration at the delay. In a statement Roger Johnson, NFU president, said, “Family farmers and ranchers have been waiting on the protections provided by the Farmer Fair Practices Rules for far too long, enduring heavily concentrated markets and the unfair practices associated with lack of competition. After having been delayed and obstructed for the past seven years, it’s time to end the unnecessary delays to the Farmer Fair Practices Rules and allow these basic protections to be finalized.”
Johnson went on to urge the Trump administration to complete its review of all rules in the process of being implemented.
“Now that the USDA has been allowed to finalize this basic, yet vitally important, set of protections, NFU is calling on the Trump Administration to stand up for family farmers, ranchers, and rural Americans by finalizing the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. We recognize that the administration wishes to review all rules that are in the process of being implemented, and we urge the administration to expeditiously complete that review process and to implement these rules as quickly as possible.”