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GIPSA rule comment period extended

As part of Trump’s regulatory freeze, APHIS  officially rolls back effective date and comment periods of GIPSA rules an additional 30 days.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) officially pushed back the effective date and comment periods for the three Farmer Fair Practices Rules – commonly known as the GIPSA rules.

Previously finalized in the last days of the Obama Administration, it was unknown whether the rules were included as part of the rule freeze executed by the new Administration when President Donald Trump came into office. The GIPSA rules were included in the Jan. 20 guidance to delay implementation and extend comment periods to ensure that the new policy team has an opportunity to review them, similar to procedures issued by previous administrations.

In a Federal Register notice scheduled for publication Feb. 7, GIPSA extended by 30 days the public comment period for the two proposed rules and one interim rule, which were published on Dec. 20, 2016. The interim rule was originally set to take effect on Feb. 21, 2017.

Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. (NCBA) vice president of government affairs, said this is a positive sign, and NCBA remains hopeful that this action indicates that Trump and his staff are listening to their constituents and are keenly in tune with the needs of the U.S. cattle industry.

“For years, we have called on the Administration to reconsider the proposed rules, which would have a devastating impact on the U.S. livestock industry. By allowing additional time for substantive comments, we believe the agency intends to give this proposal the necessary analysis and consideration that was so lacking in the previous administration," Woodall said.

Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council (NCC), said extensions of the comment periods and effective dates are welcome news because they "will allow time for additional light to be shone on these burdensome, midnight regulations released in the waning days of the Obama Administration.  It is our goal that these controversial rules be rescinded and all options are on the table to achieve that. We look forward to providing the agency with NCC’s comments.”

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) also welcomed the additional time to “educate people, including the Trump Administration, about the devastating effects the interim final GIPSA rule would have on the U.S. pork industry.”

NCBA, NPPC and NCC had all criticized the Obama Administration for the release of the GIPSA rules, calling the set a “midnight rule” coming out in the final days in office.

However, the National Farmers Union (NFU) said the regulatory freeze was not needed for the GIPSA rules. “Despite the contention of some who have consistently opposed the increased transparency and basic protections these rules offer, the Farmer Fair Practices Rules are not some ‘midnight rule’ of the Obama Administration. They are the culmination of nearly a decade of work, having been provided for in the 2008 farm bill and undergone the full regulatory process. The USDA went to extensive lengths to ensure public comment was considered and Congress’ intent was realized, only to be blocked by riders stuck on appropriations bills in the middle of the night,” NFU president Roger Johnson said.

Johnson added that after being “delayed and obstructed for the past seven years,” it's time for the rules that provide growers with basic protections to be finalized.

“Now that the USDA has been allowed to finalize this basic yet vitally important set of protections, NFU is calling on the Trump Administration to stand up for family farmers, ranchers and rural Americans by finalizing the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. We recognize that the Administration wishes to review all rules that are in the process of being implemented, and we urge the Administration to expeditiously complete that review process and to implement these rules as quickly as possible,” Johnson said.

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