USDA Delays GIPSA Rule Again, Keeping Farmers in Harm’s Way

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Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced it is delaying the effective date of the Farmer Fair Practices Interim Final Rule an additional 180 days, until Oct. 19, 2017. Further, it will again solicit public comments on the direction that USDA should take with regard to the rule. During a new 60-day comment period, the public will weigh in on whether USDA should (1) let the rule become effective, (2) suspend the rule indefinitely, (3) delay the effective date of the rule further, or (4) withdraw the rule.

The Organization for Competitive Markets as been fighting for nearly a decade for enforcement of the Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921. On December 14, 2016, we joined with USDA in the release of the new Farmer Fair Practices Rules and urged the administration to swiftly enact these marketplace safeguards.

Mike Weaver, President of the Organization for Competitive Markets, offered the following statement:

“USDA needs to stop playing games at the expense of the American family farmer. This will be the third time USDA has asked for comments on this rule. Every time family farmers comment in favor of the rule, USDA delays and opens a new comment period. It’s obvious USDA has a deaf ear to America’s family farmers. We call on America’s consumers to join family farmers in demanding USDA finally enact this rule.”

Individual producers were protected from predatory and retaliatory practices of the meatpackers through the P&S Act, until two federal court cases stripped them of their protection in 2004 and 2009. This Interim Final Rule would clarify and reiterate USDA’s longstanding interpretation that not all violations of the P&S Act require a showing of harm or likely harm to competition before harm to an individual could be claimed. Processors have used the courts’ false interpretation of the P&S Act to avoid responsibility for damages caused to contract farmers when the farmer could not prove harm to the entire sector – a nearly impossible feat for a farmer. This Interim Final Rule would right the wrong of the overreach of these court actions.

Visit competitivemarkets.com/gipsa for more information.

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