There is a movement within the US House of Representatives to deny farmer’s finalization of the USDA GIPSA Proposed Rule change to the Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921 (Proposed Rule). The Proposed Rule change would level the playing field for contract poultry farmers in their dealings with corporate agriculture.
Leading the charge is Representative Costa (CA) with a “Dear Colleague” letter asking House members to sign onto which will then go to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The letter asks Secretary Vilsack to withdraw the Proposed Rule which was issued in June 2010 and to re-propose a revised rule once an economic analysis is complete.
Those opposed to any Rule change are arguing that USDA has far exceeded the mandate in the 2008 Farm Bill however they fail to acknowledge that USDA needs no approval by Congress to propose a Rule change or to implement a Rule change.
The Proposed Rule has a long history and has been a long time in coming. Contract poultry farmers have worked toward implementation of a Rule change for the past 20 years. The latest being a mandate by Congress within the 2008 Farm Bill. USDA’s current Proposed Rule Change, issued in June 2010, has jumped through many hoops and came out of an extended public comment period with 60,000 comments mostly in support of the Proposed Rule change.
Following an uproar from the opposition, who clearly lost during the public comment period, USDA agreed to apply an economic analysis to the Rule change before implementing a Final Rule. This in itself is not required however Secretary Vilsack has allowed for a graceful method for the losers to shut up.
Representative Costa’s letter clearly is not in favor of the majority nor is it in favor of farmers. It’s no secret who the opposition is to any changes within the Packers & Stockyards Act and who doesn’t want any rules that have to be followed. Costa’s letter speaks of “those most impacted” however he fails to specifically who that is.
The poultry and livestock industry (Corporate Ag) need to suck it up and get over it. Finally farmers will have a few rules which level the playing field within their contract relationship with the big boys. If corporate ag had listened to the rumblings 20 years ago and that have only gotten louder over time, the poultry and livestock industry would have made changes instead of farmers having to go all the way to Washington DC and have mandates put in place that make contract farming fair.
Furthermore, this movement within the US House of Representatives is another example of individual members playing politics as usual despite a clear indication by the majority of the people saying what they want. This behavior by House members is an abuse of power and a huge waste of time (not to mention taxpayer dollars). Wasting time and money appears to be the current theme in Washington DC and once again our illustrious politicians are serving those with the most private dollars.
Is it any wonder that our farmer population and farms continue to steadily decline in numbers or that new or beginning farmers are scarce?