The U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized a rule Nov. 29 that finalizes proposed changes to the department, including a reorganization of the Farm Production & Conservation (FPAC) mission area as well as elimination of the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) as a stand-alone agency, moving under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
The move took effect with the issuance of a November 2017 memo and was formalized Thursday in the Federal Register.
The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) said moving GIPSA to AMS will cause Packers & Stockyards Act enforcers to lose direct access to the USDA secretary and undersecretary, resulting in “having to fight through a layer of unfavorable bureaucracy within AMS for their fair share of budget dollars and the ability to address farmers’ and ranchers’ complaints.”
OCM added, “Placing a regulatory body whose mission is to protect farmers from meat packers’ and processors’ abusive retaliatory and predatory practices into a marketing and promotion agency guarantees a conflict of interest within that agency, preventing them from being the fair market enforcers farmers desperately need in the face of ever-increasing market consolidation.”
The rule establishes new delegations of authority for the chief operating officer of the FPAC Business Center to reflect the consolidation of management support functions for the agencies of the FPAC mission area. The rule also revokes certain delegations of authority to the administrator of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) that have been transferred to the FPAC Business Center as part of this consolidation of functions.
Similarly, the rule establishes new delegations for the chief operating officer of the Rural Development (RD) Business Center to reflect the consolidation of management support functions for the RD agencies and revokes certain delegations of authority to the administrators of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), Rural Business-Cooperative Service (RBS) and Rural Housing Service (RHS) related to environmental laws that have been transferred to the RD Business Center. In addition, the rule revokes the published delegation of authority to the RHS administrator to collect, service and liquidate RHS loans and redelegates these loan servicing functions for the RHS single family housing loan programs to the RD Business Center. The assistant to the secretary for RD also may transfer loan servicing for other RHS programs (e.g., multifamily housing, community facilities) and for RUS and RBS to the RD Business Center in the future. To provide flexibility as the RD Business Center grows, the RD assistant to the secretary will issue written delegations of authority for other RD loan servicing functions as necessary.
The management support functions for the agencies comprising the Research, Education & Economics (REE) mission area have long been consolidated in an Administrative & Financial Management office organizationally located in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS). This rules updates the existing delegation to the administrator of ARS to add information technology services to the management support services that the business center in ARS provides to all REE agencies on a reimbursable basis.
Similarly, the management support functions for the agencies in the Marketing & Regulatory Programs mission area have long been consolidated in a business center residing in the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This rule updates the existing delegation of authority to the administrator of APHIS to add information technology services to the consolidated management support functions provided by APHIS to AMS on a reimbursable basis, the Federal Register notice said.