My last post, “House Moves to Deny Farmers Fairness” talked about the abuse of power being exercised by House members representing the wealthy powerhouse lobby of industrial agribusiness in attempting to stop the finalization of the USDA GIPSA Proposed Rule change to the Packers & Stockyards Act regarding marketing of livestock and poultry.
A letter sent forth by the House urged USDA to withdraw the Proposed Rule and rewrite and re-propose a new Rule. The Obama administration has said they will not withdraw the current Proposed Rule change saying that Congress mandated USDA in the 2008 Farm Bill to develop new rules to promote marketplace competition.
There has been so much drama surrounding this one issue and looking at the history is mind boggling. It’s no wonder that the government is broke! While I can recount “talk” about the issue of fairness in the marketing of livestock and poultry going back 20 years I’ll cut our illustrious politicians a break and just go back to the 2008 Farm Bill mandate.
It’s now 2011. USDA clearly accepted the 2008 mandate and proceeded to accomplish what they were directed to do. In June of 2010 the Proposed Rule was issued by USDA and opened up for public comments. Following an uproar from the corporate agribusiness world the deadline for comments to be accepted was extended from the normal 90 day comment period to 180 days.
After 6 months of accepting public comments ending in November of 2010, USDA began analyzing the comments received. Over 60,000 comments were received and according to sources it quickly became apparent that the majority of comments received are in favor of the Proposed Rule change. The minority was not happy and rumblings began to stop USDA from moving forward.
Since November 2010, USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, has jumped through many hoops for our illustrious politicians regarding the Proposed Rule and in December 2010 agreed to conduct an economic analysis before writing the Final Rule.
Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committee followed up on the economic analysis fiasco in February 2011 hearings with Secretary Vilsack using almost identically themed questions. Those on the outside looking in saw more of the “same old, same old” happening, once again!
In April 2011 a Public hearing was held by the House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry and included a panel on the state of the poultry industry. The three witnesses included a Virginia poultry grower representing the Virginia Poultry Federation, the chairman of an Iowa turkey processing company testifying on behalf the National Turkey Federation, and the President of a Georgia chicken processing company testifying on behalf of the National Chicken Council. Obviously the interest of corporate agribusiness were well represented and all had the same message concerning the USDA Proposed Rule change.
We are now approaching the end of May 2011. The newest trick being performed in the House circus is in the center ring and it’s no joke! The U.S. House of Representatives released their version of the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill and it includes language to stop the USDA GIPSA* rule dead in its tracks.
Page 61, Lines 8-15 of the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill:
“SEC. 721. None of the funds made available by this or any other Act may be used to write, prepare, develop, or publish a final rule or an interim final rule in furtherance of, or otherwise to implement, the proposed rule entitled ‘‘Implementation of Regulations Required Under Title XI of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008; Conduct in Violation of the Act’’ (75 Fed. Reg. 35338 (June 22, 2010)).”
This is nothing more than a last ditch effort by the House to accommodate the minority who don’t want any Final Rule written by USDA which will ensure fairness in the livestock and poultry industry. In other words, the House is banking on it taking away any funding to USDA that would allow the agency to do its job and issue a final rule representing the majority and leveling the playing field for farmers.
In light of this most recent happening, several unflattering thoughts run through my mind. Blatant abuse of power by the House and obvious kowtowing to corporate agribusiness interest is alive and well. We the people are being thrown aside once again by our illustrious politicians. It appears that those who have deep pockets wield the influence of our government. It’s business as usual in our Nations Capitol!
It’s urged by many that you call your Representivives NOW!
Ask to speak to your Representative directly, not a staff person. If unavailable, give your name and phone number for your Representative to return your call. Have the person taking your call repeat your information back to you.
Tell your Representatives to REMOVE the language (“SEC. 721. – listed above) in the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill and to take a stand for farmers.
Capitol Switchboard – (202)224-3121