Senators Support USDA’s Comprehensive GIPSA Proposed Rule

From the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) On Friday, August 13, twenty-one Senators joined on a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack in support of a proposed rule to clarify and strengthen the protections for farmers and ranchers provided in the Packers and Stockyards Act. The letter was sponsored by Senators Tom Harkin (IA) and Tim Johnson (SD).  A copy of the letter can be found here. USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) issued the proposed rule on June 22 to carry out the 2008 Farm Bill’s amendment of the Act and rulemaking directives.  Some Representatives, aligned with meat and poultry packers and processors, criticized the proposed rule at a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on July 20.  They opined that the proposed rule went beyond USDA’s authority.  The Senators’ letter makes clear that the proposed rule is well within the authority granted to USDA by the letter and intent of the Act.

Moreover, as the federal agency charged with implementing the Act, GIPSA has the responsibility to issue regulations that clarify the intent of the Act for the courts.  In turn, the federal courts have the duty under well-established principles of federal administrative law to defer to the agency’s reasonable interpretation of the Act.  The Senators also urged USDA to issue the final rule as expeditiously as possible.

NSAC joined with over 200 organizations representing farmers, ranchers and rural communities in support of the measures in the 2008 Farm Bill that require GIPSA to increase protections for farmers and ranchers under the Packers & Stockyards Act.

Today we issued a press release in appreciation of the support of the Senators for these long overdue improvements to the GIPSA regulations, which will help restore basic fairness and market transparency for livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers in their dealings with packers and processors.

You can help to ensure that Congress supports a strong GIPSA rule by meeting with your Representative and Senators over the August congressional recess.  Many of them will be attending meetings and public events in their home states.  Be sure to say thank you to the Senators who signed onto to the letter.  For more information, check out our NSAC Action Alert on congressional support for the GIPSA proposed rule.

Signing the Senate letter were Senators Harkin, Johnson, Grassley, Dorgan, Feingold, Conrad, Leahy, Burris, Landrieu, Tester, McCaskill, Kaufman, Kohl, Baucus, Rockefeller, Franken, Brown, Wyden, Bennet, Sanders, and Mark Udall.

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