On Wednesday, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) put out a press release criticizing the politics behind the White House’s release of the controversial “GIPSA” rule.
“In an apparent attack on rural America for its role in helping elect Donald Trump as president, the Obama Administration today issued a regulation that could restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry – putting farmers out of business – and increase consumer prices for meat,” NPPC said in its opening paragraph.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s response to the statement: “Absurd!” Vilsack then went on to say it is unfortunate that NPPC had decided to use “such rhetoric” about a rule that was designed to finish the work of the 2008 farm bill, which passed during the George W. Bush Administration.
“This has nothing to do with the election and everything to do with what’s fair to producers,” Vilsack countered. “This secretary and this department are on the side of producers. If Congress hadn’t interfered, it would have been in place years ago.”
Congress included appropriations policy riders in fiscal years 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from completing the rule-making process. Congress removed the "GIPSA rider" from USDA’s fiscal 2016 appropriations measure, which allowed the secretary to move forward.
The larger livestock groups all expressed criticism about the rule and that the Obama Administration made the move to release it during its final days in office.
Tracy Brunner, National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. (NCBA) president, said, “If USDA was interested in real solutions rather than increased government regulations, they wouldn't have rushed these rules out the door at the very close of the Administration's term, bypassing any input from industry. Cattlemen and women don't appreciate Secretary Vilsack throwing a grenade in the building as he abandons it."
National Chicken Council (NCC) president Mike Brown noted in NCC’s press statement that the current GOP platform on which President-elect Trump ran clearly states, “We oppose the policies pushed by special interest groups seeking to stop or make more expensive our current system of safe, efficient and humane production of meat. Congress has repeatedly had to block the current Administration's draconian rules concerning the marketing of poultry and livestock. This regulatory impulse must be curbed not on a case-by-case basis but through a fundamental restructuring of the regulatory process.”
A recent update of a study conducted by Informa Economics of the proposed 2010 GIPSA rule found that today it would cost the pork industry more than $420 million annually, with the majority of the costs related to Packers & Stockyards Act lawsuits brought under a “no competitive injury” provision.
NPPC chief executive officer Neil Dierks said, “The bottom line is that the White House picked trial lawyers and activists over farmers in forcing this regulation on rural America. We need to kill this illegitimate midnight rule.”
NPPC, NCBA and NCC all vowed to work with the new administration and Congress in seeing this rule overturned. Needless to say, this fight over GIPSA is far from over.