WASHINGTON – On Oct. 4, 115 bipartisan members of the US House of Representatives sent US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack a letter requesting a comprehensive economic analysis of a proposed rule on livestock and poultry marketing under the Packers and Stockyards Act. Released by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration in June, the proposed rule was in response to a request made by Congress.

Many elected leaders, however, claim the rule goes beyond the intent of Congress.

“In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress directed (USDA) to promulgate a discrete set of regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act. However, in doing so, GIPSA also included additional proposed regulations that greatly exceed the mandate of the Farm Bill,” the House members wrote. “Such a broad rule that extends so far beyond Congress’ direction in the Farm Bill and that would precipitate major changes in livestock and poultry marketing requires a vigorous economic analysis. The analysis contained in the proposed rule fails to demonstrate the need for the rule, assess the impact of its implementation on the marketplace or establish how the implementation of the rule would address the demonstrated need.”

The letter was led by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.); Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Livestock Subcommittee Chairman David Scott (D-Ga.) and Livestock Subcommittee Ranking Member Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas). Steve Foglesong, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president, said the 115 Congressmen and women who signed the letter should be given credit for standing up for US farmers and ranchers and all of rural America.

“These 115 policymakers took the common-sense approach to rule-making,” Foglesong said. “To further regulate America’s farmers and ranchers with no aggressive economic analysis of the rule’s unintended consequences is foolish. Those supporting this rule are doing so blindfolded with no facts and figures. I encourage my fellow farmers and ranchers to look at this letter carefully and see who signed it and let it serve as a tool on election day.”

The elected leaders wrote that the proposed rule is “sweeping in its scope” and would carry “major consequences in the marketing of livestock and poultry for producers and processors of all sizes.” The Congressman and women said an economic analysis is necessary in order for Congress and the public to evaluate this rule and its implications. Foglesong said the proposed rule is another example of government intrusion into private business.

“This is yet another example of the Obama administration attempting to intrude into private business, rather than letting the markets work,” Foglesong charged. “This administration continues to tout revitalization of America through economic reform and the creation of jobs. If this is true, why wouldn’t the President force USDA to conduct an economic analysis on a rule that could very well cost this country jobs and financially devastate a sector responsible for providing this country with safe and affordable food? This type of a rule could possibly be the last thing this economy needs right now.”