DES MOINES, IOWA – Deep concern was expressed by members of a House Agriculture subcommittee with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (U.S.D.A.’s) proposed rule on livestock and poultry contracts and marketing arrangements -- a regulation the National Pork Producers Council (N.P.P.C.) claims would limit pork producers’ options in selling pigs to processors.

Reps. David Scott, D-Ga., and Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Agriculture Committee’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee, in a July 20 hearing said they are troubled that the proposed rule amending the Packers and Stockyards Act (P.S.A.) goes beyond the congressional intent of the 2008 Farm Bill. The legislation authorized U.S.D.A.’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (G.I.P.S.A.) to issue rules clarifying certain provisions of the P.S.A. and implementing new ones related to capital investments, arbitration and poultry contracts.

Collin Peterson, D-Minn., Agriculture Committee chairman, who attended the hearing, as well as other subcommittee members also voiced concerns with the broad scope of the rule and its likely adverse effects on the livestock and poultry industries. The rule would put livestock producers in his district out of business, one panel member said. Some lawmakers who participated in crafting the 2008 Farm Bill pointed out Congress chose not to act on some proposals now included in the G.I.P.S.A. rule because they would disrupt and destroy the U.S. livestock industry.

“Several of the rule’s provisions go further than what was required by the Farm Bill,” said Sam Carney, N.P.P.C. president. “N.P.P.C. believes the proposed rule is overly broad and very vague, with many terms not well defined. As written, it appears the rule would have a negative effect on the ability of pork producers to enter into arrangements to produce hogs under contracts and to sell hogs through marketing arrangements.”

Concern was also expressed by panel members because G.I.P.S.A. has refused to extend for the “most significant regulation on livestock markets in nearly 100 years” the 60-day period for submitting comments on the rule. The current deadline is Aug. 23.

In a July 6 letter to G.I.P.S.A. Administrator J. Dudley Butler, N.P.P.C. requested a 120-day extension of the comment period. It said the scope of the proposed rule and the lack of an adequate economic analysis of its impact on the livestock industry warrant an extension.

Last week, 22 members of the House Agriculture Committee signed a letter to U.S.D.A. Sec. Tom Vilsack requesting an extension of the comment period for 120 days past an Aug. 27 “workshop” on competition in the livestock industry in Ft. Collins, Colo.