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Published June 06, 2011, 05:20 AM

Farm Bureau: Keep GIPSA rule moving

WASHINGTON — The American Farm Bureau Federation is opposing a House proposal to stop the Agriculture Department from proposing a new rule to govern the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Special to Agweek

WASHINGTON — The American Farm Bureau Federation is opposing a House proposal to stop the Agriculture Department from proposing a new rule to govern the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.

In a May 31 letter to Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, Farm Bureau President Bob Stallman said the group would support her amendment to remove a provision in the fiscal year 2012 agriculture appropriations bill that would stop the implementation of a 2008 farm bill provision that directs USDA to re-evaluate GIPSA to increase fairness in the marketplace for smaller meat and poultry producers.

“We oppose language to preclude USDA from reviewing the comments and completing their economic analysis and are strongly opposed to any action that would stop work on that rule,” Stallman wrote.

Support, opposition mix

The Obama administration’s proposed rule has divided the livestock community, with smaller producers favoring it and bigger producers and processors opposing it. The administration has extended the comment period and agreed to conduct an economic analysis of its impact.

Kaptur presented her amendment at a House Appropriations Committee markup of the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill May 31. The committee approved the overall bill.

Kaptur told Agweek she does not know exactly how she will proceed with her goal of allowing USDA to proceed with the rule. The National Farmers Union and the National Family Farm Coalition also oppose the provision that would stop implementation.

Farm Bureau said that the Agriculture Department should have an opportunity to complete reviewing the 60,000 comments received and that it is “imperative” that USDA continue its economic analysis.

“Farm Bureau is in the unique position of representing every species impacted by this rule,” Stallman wrote. “We also have no affiliation with major packers, integrators or processors and therefore our only interest is the impact of this rule on farmers and ranchers.”

“Generally speaking,” Stallman wrote, “Farm Bureau’s philosophy supports a market environment where our farmers and ranchers can sell their product in a way that best fits with their individual operation and risk aversion level. Our policy clearly states that ‘We support efforts to ensure open markets to all producers.’”

Market ‘referee’

Stallman added that Farm Bureau farmer and rancher members “have recognized the need for a referee in the marketplace” and support GIPSA in that role. He also noted that Farm Bureau policy supports more vigorous enforcement of antitrust laws, including the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Lobbyists for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the National Pork Producers Council, which have been critical of the rule, told reporters after the markup that they knew nothing of the Farm Bureau letter until Kaptur read sections of it at the markup.

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