WASHINGTON – Concern has been expressed by Senate leaders about the objectivity of the U.S. Department of Agriculture regarding its actions surrounding the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration proposed livestock procurement rule and the ongoing U.S.D.A./Department of Justice competition workshops, the American Meat Institute relays.

Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) noted in a letter sent to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that even though the U.S.D.A. has assured that ongoing workshops would provide an opportunity for diverse viewpoints to be heard, recent press accounts and an e-mail sent by a U.S.D.A. official suggest otherwise.

As a result, the Senators made the following requests:

* The number of U.S.D.A. and non-U.S.D.A. recipients who received the e-mail in question from an official email account.

* The content of subsequent e-mail messages to and from the official email account responding to the original message.

* Any memoranda or directives sent to U.S.D.A. employees asking for assistance in soliciting workshop participants.

* A description of how the Administration will ensure the Aug. 27 joint D.O.J./U.S.D.A. workshop will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner.

* All solicitations or position statements from any U.S.D.A. agent or employee regarding the competition workshops.

The Senators also requested U.S.D.A. to clarify whether comments from the workshops will be incorporated in its evaluation of G.I.P.S.A.’s proposed rule.

“Our nation’s livestock industry is critical to the success of rural America and a positive contributor to our national balance of trade. As the Administration moves forward with regulations affecting all participants in the industry, it is vital they do so in an open, unbiased and deliberative process,” the letter concludes.

To read a copy of the entire letter, visit http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/62346.