WASHINGTON — A letter signed by 17 senators was sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, urging the US Department of Agriculture to extend its deadline for comments to the proposed poultry contracting rule.

The “Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity under the Packers and Stockyards Act” was published on Oct. 3, 2022, and stakeholders were granted 60 days to respond with comments.

The rule provides protections against prejudices and discrimination in the marketplace to promote inclusive competition in the meat and poultry industry.

In the letter, the senators asked Vilsack to extend the comment period by six more months so stakeholders can thoughtfully analyze the rule’s contents.

“We respectfully request that USDA extend the comment period of the proposed rule for 180 days,” they wrote. “This would allow stakeholders and constituents to study the impact that the department’s full competition agenda would have on industry efficiency and compliance costs, food availability and hunger, and inflationary pressures on consumers.”

The proposed rule is the second initiative is a series of three rulemaking activities. In June, the agency published a proposed rule, “Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting Tournaments” and an advanced notice of “Poultry Growing Tournament Systems: Fairness and Related Concerns.”