For Immediate Release
August 13, 2010
Contact: Ferd Hoefner
Washington, D.C. August 13, 2010 – Today a letter from 21 U.S. Senators was delivered to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to implement as expeditiously as possible USDA’s proposed rules to restore competitive markets and contract fairness to livestock and poultry markets.
USDA’s Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) issued proposed rules in June that promise to outlaw preferential pricing, expand producer rights to sue over unfair and deceptive practices, and compel contract fairness for poultry producers. The rules have been widely praised by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), NSAC member groups from all parts of the country, and many other farm organizations.
The Senators’ letter states, “GIPSA’s authority and responsibility to address the full scope of subject matter covered in the proposed rule is amply supported and justified by the letter and intent of the P&S Act, as amended, and by well-established principles of federal administrative law enunciated by the Supreme Court of the United States and other federal courts.”
Some meat and poultry packers and processors and their supporters in Congress are claiming that the proposed rule is without statutory authority. The 21 Senators, however, emphasize in their letter to Secretary Vilsack that the new rules are within the directives to the USDA in the 2008 Farm Bill which was enacted by overwhelming majorities in both houses of Congress.
“These rules are well within both the original intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act as well as the specific language in the 2008 Farm Bill directing rulemaking on undue preference and other issues critical to achieving fair markets for family sized farmers,” said Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. “The rules will also clarify for the courts that a basic intent of the Packers and Stockyards Act is to provide a legal remedy and redress for individual farmers and ranchers who show that they have been harmed by unfair or deceptive practices. The farmers and ranchers we represent strongly support this proposed rule as an important first step to address corporate control of the livestock sector and restore a degree of fairness to the marketplace.”
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities.