FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In connection with a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Department of Justice workshop on competition in agriculture, Mark Dopp, American Meat Institute senior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel, said the U.S. meat and poultry industry is dynamic and competitive and that livestock and poultry procurement practices that include marketing agreements and forward contracts are legitimate.

Dozens of analyses by the government and universities have reached this same conclusion, he added.

“Past attempts to prove through the courts that somehow agreements and forward contracts afford undue preferences have been rejected by eight appellate courts,” Dopp said. “Despite these judicial rejections, U.S.D.A.’s new proposal, which will strongly discourage the use of these agreements by exposing parties who enter into them to litigation, represents a plain-old end run around both the courts and Congress.”

Claims by the rules proponents that somehow this proposal will help rural America simply don’t stand up to scrutiny, he continued. “Given the scope of the rule’s potential impact, this debate encompasses far more than just the meat and livestock sector, far more than our rural communities. It is a national economic concern.

Also telling about the rule’s potential damage is the long list of respected, mainstream groups that have lined up to ask that the rule be withdrawn, Dopp said. “Those in favor represent a minority view and they clearly use selective facts to argue their case – which is likely why they have not prevailed in court where the full facts have been examined,” he added.

“While it could be argued that they deserve an ‘A’ for persistence, their efforts could be better spent helping move the industry forward instead of tearing it down,” he concluded.