Tom Vilsack responds to lawmakers on GIPSA proposed rule
October 29, 2010
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack last week responded to 115 members of the U.S. House who had called for a “vigorous” economic analysis of the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration proposed rule on livestock and poultry marketing practices.
Vilsack wrote, “You requested a comprehensive economic study of the proposed rule. Beyond the cost-benefit analysis we have conducted for the proposed rule, we look forward to reviewing the public comments to inform (USDA) if all factors have been properly considered, if or how changes should be incorporated, and to aid rigorous cost-benefit and related analyses pursuant to the rule-making process” He also wrote that USDA is not obligated to do an additional cost benefit analysis until after the public comment period on the proposal ends on Nov. 22.
The lawmakers wrote Vilsack earlier this month that the proposed rule “extends so far beyond Congress’ direction in the farm bill (of 2008) and would precipitate major changes in livestock and poultry marketing (that it) requires a vigorous economic analysis. The analysis contained in the proposed rule fails to demonstrate the need for the rule, assess the impact of its implementation on the marketplace, or demonstrate how the implementation of the rule would address the demonstrated need.”
Industry reaction to Vilsack’s response was predictably mixed:
• NCBA President Steve Foglesong said the Secretary, the entire administration and supporters of the proposal continue to ignore the needs of rural America. He called Vilsack’s actions irresponsible and said the proposed rule “could very likely result in financial devastation to a critical part of our country’s economy,” adding that the secretary is ignoring “the pleas of thousands of cattle producers.”
• R-CALF USA President Dr. Max Thornsberry said his group “fully supports the Secretary’s decision. The call for a new economic analysis by less than a third of the House and NCBA was, pure and simple, an effort to delay – if not completely derail – thee long-awaited GIPSA rule.”
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• The American Meat Institute, which represents packers, released an economic study it paid for on the impact of the rule. It says retail meat prices could rise 3.3 percent if the rule is implemented, and cause the loss of 104,000 jobs. The job losses would not just be in meat packing or livestock production, “but in nearly every sector of the American economy,” AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle said.