The Organization for Competitive Markets, which represents family farm interests, is suing USDA for withdrawing a rule seen as offering farmers and ranchers protections in sales of live animals with meat and poultry processors.
USDA announced in October it was withdrawing the interim final rule, an update to the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. Known as the Farmer Fair Practice Rule, the set of regulations was widely opposed by the processing industry.
The lawsuit seeks to reinstate the rules, which “prohibit major meat and poultry producers who contract with farmers from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices,” the organization said in a news release.
The rule “would have allowed farmers to hold agribusinesses accountable for practices like retaliation, bad faith cancellation of contracts, or collusion efforts to force farmers out of the market,” the group said. USDA’s halting of the rule makes it effectively impossible for farmers to bring unfair practices claims, it said.
The Organization for Competitive Markets is being represented on a pro bono basis by Democracy Forward, a nonprofit legal organization. The suit, which is in the form of a petition for review, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.