USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack received a bipartisan letter last week from 115 members of the U.S. House of Representatives calling for a comprehensive economic analysis of the proposed GIPSA rule that threatens to undermine the efforts of producers to create and retrieve more value.

“In the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress directed USDA to promulgate a discrete set of regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act. However, in doing so, GIPSA also included additional proposed regulations that greatly exceed the mandate of the Farm Bill,” according to the letter. “Such a broad rule that extends so far beyond Congress’ direction in the Farm Bill and that would precipitate major changes in livestock and poultry marketing 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 establish how the implementation of the rule would address the demonstrated need.”

The letter was led by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN); Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK), Livestock Subcommittee Chairman David Scott (D-GA) and Livestock Subcommittee Ranking Member Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Steve Foglesong says the 115 Congressmen and women that signed the letter should be given credit for standing up for U.S. farmers and ranchers and all of rural America.

“These 115 policymakers took the commonsense approach to rule making. To further regulate America’s farmers and ranchers with no aggressive economic analysis of the rule’s unintended consequences is foolish. Those supporting this rule are doing so blindfolded with no facts and figures,” Foglesong says. “I encourage my fellow farmers and ranchers to look at this letter carefully and see who signed it and let it serve as a tool on election day.”

The elected leaders wrote in their letter that the proposed rule is “sweeping in its scope” and would carry “major consequences in the marketing of livestock and poultry for producers and processors of all sizes.” The Congressmen and women said in the letter that an economic analysis is necessary in order for Congress and the public to evaluate this rule and its implications.

“This is yet another example of the Obama administration attempting to intrude into private business, rather than letting the markets work,” Foglesong says. “This administration continues to tout revitalization of America through economic reform and the creation of jobs. If this is true, why wouldn’t the President force USDA to conduct an economic analysis on a rule that could very well cost this country jobs and financially devastate a sector responsible for providing this country with safe and affordable food? This type of a rule could possibly be the last thing this economy needs right now.”

The National Agricultural Law Center at the University of Arkansas (www.nationalaglawcenter.org) will present a nationwide webinar on the proposed GIPSA livestock rules Oct. 14. The webinar (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CST) is free and will provide an overview of GIPSA's proposed rule changes for poultry and livestock, review the UDSA rule-making process, explain how producers and others can submit comments on the proposed rules. It will also include a question-and-answer session.

The webinar will be hosted via eXtension for participants around the country. More info is available at www.nationalaglawcenter.org/gipsa.