Congressional Hearing on Livestock Marketing Continues Debate

July 22, 2010 02:15 PM

House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Chairman David Scott (D-Ga.) held a hearing on Tuesday to review livestock and related USDA programs in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill.

The Subcommittee heard testimony from USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward M. Avalos. Avalos was joined by administrators from USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).

Congressional subcommittee member questioned USDA officials over the latest proposed rule regarding livestock competition.

“Fair and transparent markets are necessary for orderly commerce between producers, packers, processors, retailers, and consumers. At the same time, we owe it to our constituents to ensure that the policy process is also fair and transparent so that the path of good intentions does not lead us to the land of unintended consequences," aid Subcommittee Ranking Member Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas) in a press release. He also expressed disappointment that the GIPSA rule comment period is only 60 days and will close before the USDA/DOJ workshops on this subject are completed.

"For this reason, 21 of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle joined me in requesting that the comment period be extended 120 days so that the USDA/DOJ workshops can be completed and a thorough analysis can be conducted by everybody wishing to comment on the rule," said Neugebauer, R-Texas. So far, no extension has been given to the comment period, which ends August 24.

 “While USDA officials stressed this is only a ‘proposed rule’ and industry will have the opportunity to provide comments, they have yet to answer our requests to extend the comment period. No matter where you stand on the issue, everyone would benefit from additional time to analyze and provide feedback on this extremely complex rule," said NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall.

NCBA is concerned that while the proposed regulation targets packers, it will be cattle producer that will ultimately be hurt by implementation of the rule. "The requirement to report and justify contractual purchases from producers, while being measured on ‘fairness,’ could result in packers responding to the regulation through ‘risk avoidance’ by stopping marketing agreements with producers," says Woodall.  

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is available on the Committee web site: A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee web site at a later date.

To view the subcommittee's press release, click here.

To view an outline of GIPSA's proposed rule, follow this link.

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