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News Reports Paint Picture of Heated Hearing on GIPSA Rule

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

(American Meat Institute)

News reports about a House Agriculture Committee hearing yesterday depict heated exchanges between lawmakers and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials, who were challenged repeatedly about the reasoning behind a Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) proposed rule that would dramatically affect how livestock and poultry are marketed. 

The proposed rule, published in June, has a 60 day comment period.  However, USDA Undersecretary for Marketing Programs Edward Avalos and GIPSA Administrator Dudley Butler faced a unanimous call from lawmakers to extend the comment period.

DTN Reporter Chris Clayton blogged about the hearing, writing that the rules themselves were in jeopardy and that the comment period would most certainly be extended.  According to Clayton, “…the hearing became a searing bi-partisan criticism of the livestock rules proposed last month by the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration. I'm watching this through the internet feed and all I can think is ‘Talk about breaking out a can of Whoop *&%.’"

According to a blog post by Des Moines Register Reporter Phil Brasher, Rep. David Scott (D-GA) said officials went well beyond what Congress intended.  “Walter Minnick of Iowa called the regulations ‘silly.’ Rep. Jim Costa, (D-CA) said the rules would be a ‘lawyers’ field day.’ The chairman of the full committee, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, (D-MN) worried that the rules would make it harder to continue branded marketing arrangements between farmers and processors,” Brasher wrote.

Feedstuffs writer Sally Schuff said the USDA officials were “blasted” and quoted Rep. Scott’s comment to Avalos and Butler:  “For you, and the department to arbitrarily go against the wishes and intent of Congress is serious.  The least  –  the least – you can do is to extend the comment period.  To move ahead would be the worst thing that we could do for the industry and for America."

 And National Journal writer Jerry Hagstrom’s story “Proposed Livestock Marketing Rule Draws Fire In House” reported that former Agriculture Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, (R-VA) said Congress might need to block implementation of the rule.

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