Lawmakers Oppose GIPSA Rules

Earlier this week, 147 lawmakers on Capitol Hill sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack warning him against implementing suggested regulations to the Packing and Stockyard Act, proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. The GIPSA regulations, suggested and approved in June, 2010, seek to clarify the Packing and Stockyard Act. Initially passed in the 1920’s, the P&S Act forbade meat packers and poultry dealers from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices and prevented giving and person or locality preferential treatment.

The vagueness of this law, GIPSA claims, has hindered its implementation, often to the advantage of large, corporate meatpackers. The dozen rules and regulations proposed by the GIPSA seek to clarify the ambiguities of the initial law and focuses primarily on corporate abuses by the poultry industry. Some groups have lauded the USDA’s efforts. Small farmers and packers are pleased at the increased level of corporate regulation. In addition, members of the Farmers Union have similarly praised the regulatory nature of the rules, with Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen claiming that big meatpackers currently have too much influence in Washington and that current marketing regulations are rigged in the favor of large-scale packers, creating a noncompetitive environment.

Others, however, oppose the proposed regulations. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Bill Donald says that the regulations merely increase the size of government, inserting further economic regulation into a struggling market. Other farm leaders claim that the increased regulation will hurt their bottom line and could cost valuable jobs. Some 147 Representatives seem to agree that caution is needed when implementing these rules and have signed their names to a letter urging Vilsack to proceed with these regulations in a transparent manner and to allow comments and feedback by members of the impacted industries.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer