USDA Set to Send Final GIPSA Rule to OMB

October 13, 2011 03:01 AM

via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Key will be how US gov't defines 'fairness' and 'undue preference'

NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.

U.S. government sources inform that USDA is about to send its long-stalled Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The rule deals with competition in the livestock and poultry market place.

USDA has completed its more comprehensive economic analysis of the rule, which it did not release when the rule was initially proposed. Congressional and industry pressure helped turn USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack around on the matter.

Defining key terms. A government source said the final rule will be more in line with what Congress proposed for the topic via the 2008 Farm Bill, but how USDA will define "fairness" and "undue preference" will be key.

Background: GIPSA over a year ago published the proposed rule and launched a nation-wide listening campaign to take comments on the rule. Some farm-state lawmakers, meat packers and some livestock groups opposed several items in the rule, noting it went considerably beyond what Congress directed in the 2008 Farm Bill, and that USDA had not done a comprehensive economic analysis. In September, Cass Sunstein, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the OMB , said that public analysis is important.

Comments: Well, it certainly has taken USDA a long time to fulfill what Congress wanted it to via the 2008 Farm Bill. And it took way too long for Ag Secretary Vilsack to get the message that the rule was a major one that needed a comprehensive economic analysis. Vilsack was ill served by someone or some people when this issue was first raised within USDA. The lack of an initial thorough economic analysis has been a major item that lawmakers have not pursued. Why was the initial rule deemed not important enough to warrant a comprehensive analysis? Was there bias among USDA and other Obama administration officials regarding this issue? Also, as noted above, USDA will likely say it reviewed the comments about this rule carefully and it fulfills the 2008 Farm Bill directive. But as is so typical with how rules are implemented, the key will be how the government defines "fairness" and "undue preference." With this administration and USDA I have learned to read the fine print.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.






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