The USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration's proposed rule on livestock marketing poses concerns to animal welfare, according to the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. The Obama Administration's proposed rule would ban packer-to-packers sales of livestock causing many to question the impact to the welfare of livestock. Colin Woodall, NCBA vice president of government affairs, said eliminating packer-to-packer sales would have several unintended consequences such as animal welfare.
"Let's say that there is a beef packer located in the Pacific Northwest that also owns a feedlot in Southwest Kansas. Under this proposal, that company would be required to ship all of its Kansas feedlot cattle to Washington State for processing, which subjects those cattle to an additional 1,600 miles of travel," said Woodall
Woodall also said the packer-to-packer ban would especially hurt smaller producers, dealers and packers. He said the ban would encourage consolidation and displace producer livestock.
"In addition, those cattle that traveled from Kansas to Washington State would displace the local cattle that typically supply that plant," said Woodall. "The proposal would add inefficiencies for the feedlot through added transportation costs, which could result in the sale or liquidation of that feedlot, thereby driving consolidation and less competition."
Colorado State University professor and world renowned animal welfare expert, Temple Grandin, wrote USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack offering her concerns about the well-being of livestock if the proposed rule requires packers to market and sell livestock through dealers is implemented. Beyond stress to livestock that would occur if this rule is implemented, Grandin is also concerned that the proposed rule would complicate and compromise the effectiveness of many established animal welfare-certification programs by requiring another level of paperwork and recordkeeping to track the additional transactions.
"As a scientist who has dedicated her life to improving livestock welfare, I am extremely alarmed that although this rule is concerned with marketing and competition, the department ultimately responsible for it – USDA – is also charged with enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act and apparently has paid so little attention to the animal welfare implications of this proposal," Grandin stated in the letter.