The agency extended implementation of the rule by 180 days

WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) extended the implementation date of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) interim final rule (IFR) on competitive injury. The final rule was to go into force on April 22.

The USDA’s Farmer Fair Practices Rules aim to protect the rights of family farmers by clarifying what GIPSA views as practices that clearly violate the Packers and Stockyards Act while establishing criteria to protect farmers. The rules also establish 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.

The National Chicken Council (NCC), a vocal critic of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, applauded USDA’s decision to delay implementing the rules.

“With this extension notice, it is clear the administration has recognized this is a complicated and controversial issue with deep economic consequences for American poultry and livestock producers,” NCC President Mike Brown said in a statement.  “The comments filed have obviously had an impact, and we thank the department for postponing the effective date to allow for a more thorough and meaningful review.  We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to resolve this issue during this ‘timeout period’ of further review.”

The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) also expressed its support of the move, allowing the next US Secretary of Agriculture to review the rule and consider comments that were submitted in late March. NAMI pointed out in a statement that the agency plans to publish a proposed rule on April 12, proposing seeking options and comments on whether the IFR should be withdrawn.

“The delay is imperative to ensure this damaging rule does not take effect without a careful review by the new administration,” said Barry Carpenter, NAMI president and CEO. “We are confident that once the new secretary of agriculture takes office, he will recognize what a disaster this rule is for producers, meat packers and processors, retailers and consumers.

“Allowing the IFR to become effective would simply line the pockets of trial lawyers, while making our industry less competitive and our livestock producer-partners less profitable,” Carpenter said.  The IFR also is inconsistent with a presidential executive order on reducing regulations and controlling costs, which requires that two regulations must be identified for repeal before a new regulation may move forward.