poultry in shed

Livestock groups ask if GIPSA rule part of regulatory freeze

Letter also asks for extension of comment period on proposed poultry growing ranking system and undue preference.

On Jan. 20, the White House issued a regulatory freeze, calling for all regulations still in the works to be postponed for 60 days. This freeze allows the time for the new Administration to review the regulations before they are finalized and take effect. Livestock groups are unsure whether the "GIPSA rule" is included in that freeze.

Having yet to hear from the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), livestock groups -- including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., National Chicken Council, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation and North American Meat Institute -- sent a letter to the agency. The letter asks when GIPSA intends to announce the delay of the effective date of the interim final rule on competitive injury and additionally requests an extension of the comment period for the two proposed rules to address undue preference and the poultry grower ranking system.

All three rules were published in December, as the Obama Administration was headed out the door and despite industry concerns.

"As highlighted in the Priebus Memo, the interim final rule raises serious and contentious issues of law and policy," the letter states. "The Dec. 20 Federal Register interim final rule publication ignores or misrepresents important legal and policy questions. As GIPSA is well aware, eight separate federal appellate courts have rendered decisions that conflict with the interim final rule."

The proposed rule-making was initially undertaken in 2010 and was quickly defunded by Congress. The groups claim that the rule “limits producers' marketing options while adding layers of bureaucracy and opening the door to litigation.”

"The agency received countless comments advising it that the interim final rule will adversely affect the very livestock producers and poultry growers the act is intended to protect," the letter says. "From the comments received and its own study, the agency is well aware that producers will be most adversely affected if the use of alternative marketing arrangements and other grower production contracts is diminished and the agency also knows regulated entities will decrease or abandon using those agreements with the looming threat of litigation."

Because of the significant implications and problems with the interim final rule, the effective date should be delayed to give the incoming Administration the opportunity to consider these problems, the groups suggested.

Similarly, GIPSA published the proposed rules just days before Christmas and New Year, and the groups believe more time should be given to comment on the proposed rules, which are sufficiently different from the agency's 2010 publication and warrant careful and considered scrutiny.

To read the letter, click here.

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