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NFU: GIPSA Briefings; Positive Impacts for Producers

by 5m Editor
19 November 2010, at 11:09a.m.

US - National Farmers Union (NFU) held briefings this week for US House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture and US Senate Agriculture Committee members and their staff on the Grain Inspection and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) proposed rule.

The speaker panel at the briefings was comprised of Craig Watts, contract poultry grower from North Carolina, Bob Mack, cattle feeder from South Dakota, and Alan Hoefling, independent pork producer and Farmers Union member from Iowa.

“The voices of US producers are the important to be heard through this rulemaking process,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “US family farmers and ranchers have been at the mercy of packers for far too long. The proposed rule is essentially a Farmer and Rancher Bill of Rights.”

The broken livestock marketing system has taken a toll on rural America. The number of US beef and hog operations has been rapidly declining over the last 30 years. In 1980, there were 660,000 hog farms, while only 67,000 remain today. Thirty years ago there were 1.3 million beef cattle operations, but only 950,000 today. The GIPSA rule would prevent packers and processors from abusing their market power and would protect the rights of producers.

“The current system is broken, and now is the time to make a change,” said Mr Johnson. “Some aspects of the proposed rule would benefit from additional clarification, but overall the rule is a much-needed regulatory measure to increase competition and allow access to fair markets for farmers and ranchers.”

The proposed rule addresses concerns that have been discussed in the industry for decades. The rule is within the scope of GIPSA’s authority granted by the Packers and Stockyards Act and was developed in response to the 2008 Farm Bill, which requires USDA to carry out specific rulemaking to improve fairness in the marketing of livestock and poultry. The comment period on the proposed rule ends on 22 November.