The U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Justice (DOJ) announced additional details for their upcoming public workshop to examine competition in livestock markets. Specifically, the workshop will focus on USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration's (GIPSA) proposed rule, announced June 18, on livestock marketing. The workshop, to be held Aug. 27 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, is the fourth in a series of five joint USDA/DOJ workshops focused on competition and regulatory issues in agriculture.
According to USDA, the workshop will be led by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Christine Varney, followed by panels featuring ranchers, academics, processors and other industry representatives. National Cattlemen's Beef Association Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall said it is important for cattle producers to attend the workshop to express their personal concerns about the proposed rule, which suggests major changes to the way producers can market their cattle.
"It is critical for USDA and DOJ officials to hear directly from producers of U.S. beef. This rule could potentially put these innovative farmers and ranchers out of business," said Woodall. "This rule has the potential to take the beef industry back 30 years by stifling the innovative efforts of U.S. cattle producers to add value and enhance the quality and safety of their products for consumers in the United States and abroad."
Last month, USDA responded to calls from Congress, NCBA, the National Pork Producers Council and other leading agricultural organizations to extend the comment period to the proposed rule by offering a 90-day extension. During a House Agriculture subcommittee hearing on livestock on July 20, 2010, Democrats and Republicans expressed to USDA the scope of the proposed rule goes well beyond what Congress intended under the 2008 Farm Bill. NCBA also reiterated that fact in writing to USDA.