April 13, 2011
On Wednesday, April 13, the Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry of the House Agriculture Committee held a hearing on the State of the Poultry Industry. The three witnesses included a Virginia poultry grower representing the Virginia Poultry Federation, the chairman of an Iowa turkey processing company testifying on behalf the National Turkey Federation, and the President of a Georgia chicken processing company testifying on behalf of the National Chicken Council.
The three major topics addressed at the hearing were the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) proposed rule to increase fairness in contracts between poultry growers and processors, the impacts of corn ethanol production on the poultry feed prices, and the EPA’s development of a Clean Water Act Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) plan for the Chesapeake Bay region that includes the possibility of more stringent EPA regulatory requirements for CAFOs and state developed measures for controlling non-point pollution from agriculture.
None of the many poultry farmers who have supported the GIPSA proposed rule in public comments or took the risk of testifying at USDA and Department of Justice hearings last year on the poultry industry was invited to testify at the hearing. So, not surprisingly, the two representatives from the poultry processing industry and the farmer invited to the hearing all expressed opposition to the GIPSA proposed rule.
The testimony of the National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation contended that if farmers are provided with fair contract terms and effective legal protection from deceptive and unfair practices in their relations with poultry processors, the processors will no longer deal with independent poultry growers in the U.S. Instead, they claimed, they will raise the poultry in company-owned and operated facilities.
If you would like more information on how the the GIPSA proposed rule will help poultry growers, the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA has posted a question-and-answer fact sheet on the web. USDA is currently reviewing over 60,000 public comments that were submitted on the proposed rule. NSAC’s mostly favorable review of the proposed rule can be read here.