Three livestock organizations - National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council and the National Turkey Federation - praised the House vote Tuesday because it prevents USDA from implementing proposed regulation on livestock and poultry marketing. The House Appropriations Committee voted to approve legislation that funds USDA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and related agencies for fiscal year 2012, starting Oct. 1.
And while the measure has controversial cuts to conservation spending, income limits on what farmers can receive in support, the livestock groups applaud the denial of money to USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration to promulgate the proposed livestock and marketing regulation.
In a press statement commenting on the measure, NCGA President Bill Donald, a Melville, Mont., rancher, notes the legislation prevents government intervention in the private marketplace. "This is the first step in preventing an unprecedented government invasion into the private marketplace. Big government has invaded banking, healthcare and more. The last thing we need is the federal government setting up shop on cattle ranches throughout the country," he says.
John Burkel, NTF secretary-treasurer and a Badger, Minn., turkey farmer, says the GIPSA rule would result in job losses and negatively impact a variety of farmers, including limits on their ability to enter marketing agreements. "The more than 1,000 family farmers who raise turkeys in this country rely on production and marketing contracts to make a living. As one of those farmers, I commend the House Appropriations Committee for putting the brakes on this rule," he comments.
The three groups note that USDA initially allowed only 60 days to comment on the proposal and did not conduct an economic analysis of the rule. The agency also issued a "clarifying" document on the regulation during the comment period. While USDA subsequently agreed to perform a cost-benefit analysis, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack has denied requests to open the analysis to public comments despite a bipartisan letter from 147 members of Congress.
Adds NPPC President Doug Wolf, a Lancaster, Wis., pork producer: "The Obama administration said it would be open and transparent, but on this rule, USDA has not been. The language in the agriculture appropriations bill will give livestock and poultry producers a much-needed timeout on the GIPSA rule."