Politico’s Morning Ag
By Sabrina Rodriguez
USDA defied the will of Congress when it rolled back two rules aimed at balancing the power between meatpacking companies and contract growers –– more widely known as the GIPSA rules, according to the latest brief filed in a lawsuit challenging Perdue’s decision to withdraw the rules last year.
The lawsuit, brought by legal nonprofit Democracy Forward on behalf of the Organization for Competitive Markets, also argues that the department failed to provide a good reason when it scrapped the guidelines intended to give a leg up to contract farmers working in an increasingly consolidated industry.
At the time of his decision, Perdue said the rules would have invited “unnecessary and unproductive litigation.” The secretary also said USDA will watch out for contract growers, individually and collectively, to ensure they aren’t disadvantaged by unfair, uncompetitive rules. With this lawsuit, USDA has argued in filings that it has discretion to rescind the rules, which it believes would never have held up in court anyway.
What’s next: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit will set a date to hear the arguments at length and hash out any questions the judges may have for both sides. That could happen as soon as next month.