WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to publish a final rule on Dec. 3 to increase fairness in the poultry industry by amending regulations to provide poultry growers with new information and improve transparency in poultry growing arrangements.Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement on the final rule, which becomes effective on Jan. 4, 2010. A copy of the rule can be found at www.gipsa.usda.gov.
According to the new regulations, a poultry grower must be provided a true written copy of a poultry-growing arrangement in a timely manner. The poultry-growing arrangement must include information about any performance improvement plans and provisions for written termination notices of the arrangement. Notwithstanding confidentiality provisions, the rule allows growers to discuss the terms of poultry growing arrangements with designated individuals. The proposed rule was published Aug. 1, 2007.
Not disclosing certain terms in a poultry-growing arrangement constitutes an unfair, discriminatory or deceptive practice in violation of section 202 (7 U.S.C. 192) of the Packers and Stockyards Act, U.S.D.A. replays.
"The Obama Administration is committed to ensuring that the marketplace for our farmers and ranchers is free from unfair and deceptive practices," Mr. Vilsack said. "This new rule will provide much-needed information and basic protections for poultry growers that will enable them to make better business decisions and safeguard their livelihood."
Several leading poultry processors contacted for a comment on the final rule referred MEATPOULTRY.com to the National Chicken Council.
"While we have some concerns about the 90-day termination notice required of either party," said Richard Lobb, N.C.C. spokesman, in an e-mail to MEATPOULTRY.COM. "The rule otherwise generally ratifies practices already in place between integrators and producers. The industry will continue to work with contract growers in the best interest of all parties," Lobb added.