Meat institue
Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA is 'outraged' by decision.
WASHINGTON – The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced in an advance Federal Register notice posted Oct. 17 that it is rescinding an interim final rule (IFR) originally published in October 2016, regarding the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The USDA previously delayed the interim final rule in April for 180 days

GIPSA’s Farmer Fair Practices Rules, originally published during the end of the Obama administration and set to take effect in February, were delayed by the new administration. They included an interim final rule and two proposed rules. 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.

The IFR would have limited marketing agreements that allow the meat industry to meet consumer demand for various animal handling and production requirements, such as organic, grass fed, raised without an antibiotics and others resulting in limited availability of these products for consumers, according to the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). 

NAMI’s President and CEO Barry Carpenter applauded the administration’s announcement. 

“We appreciate Secretary Perdue and the agency carefully considering the many comments submitted, including strong opposition from many livestock and poultry producers who recognized the interim final rule would have greatly harmed the entire industry,” Carpenter said. “The secretary and his staff recognized the considerable harm the rule would have done to those farmers and ranchers, as well as consumers, retailers, and meat packers and processors.

“The Meat Institute has long argued the IFR was inconsistent with the existing statute, years of judicial precedent, and the will of Congress, with a price tag in the billions. The administration’s fresh look shows it’s time to move on from this irresponsible rule,” Carpenter said.

Not everyone in the industry is in favor of the decision. Sally Lee, program director at Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, issued the following statement: 

“We are outraged that the USDA is cancelling rules that would provide financial security and basic fairness for family farmers and their communities. Instead, they’ve chosen to side with Big Meat.

“Farmers have made clear that they need protection from harmful and abusive practices that are standard in their industry. President Trump pledged that he would take a stand for them, but is instead taking another step in the opposite direction by cancelling the fair practice rule. I urge this administration to make good on his promise to protect rural communities, and immediately implement the interim final rule.”

GIPSA was established in 1994 to facilitate the marketing of livestock, poultry, meat, cereals, oilseeds, and related agricultural products, and to promote fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture. The Agency's mission is carried out by the Federal Grain Inspection Service with relation to the US grain market and the Packers and Stockyards Programs which enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, designed to promote fair and competitive marketing environments for the livestock, meat, and poultry industries.