The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) published its long-awaited final rule in the Dec. 9, 2011, Federal Register. The rule implements several components of 2008 farm bill related to livestock and poultry marketing and procurement.

The provisions being finalized by USDA were required by the 2008 farm bill and have been modified from the June 22, 2010, proposed rule, USDA said in a news release. These sections include criteria the USDA Secretary may consider when determining whether a live poultry dealer has provided reasonable notice to poultry growers of any suspension of the delivery of birds; when determining whether a requirement of additional capital investments over the life of a poultry growing arrangement or swine production contract constitutes a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act; and when determining if a packer, swine contractor, or live poultry dealer has provided a reasonable period of time for a grower to remedy a breach of contract that could lead to termination of a production contract.

The rule also includes a section requiring contracts that require the use of arbitration to include language on the signature page that allows the producer or grower to decline arbitration, and provides criteria the USDA Secretary may consider when determining if the arbitration process provided in a contract provides a meaningful opportunity for growers and producers to participate fully in the arbitration process.

USDA also planned to seek additional public comment on several other revised provisions from the June 22, 2010, proposed rule including changes to the tournament system of payment for poultry growers, requirements to collect and post sample contracts and to address the issue of need for producers to show harm to competition prior to asserting a violation of the Packer and Stockyards Act. However, the FY2012 Agriculture Appropriations bill passed by Congress included language prohibiting USDA from moving forward on these provisions.

The final rule becomes effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. To read the revised rule, click here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-09/pdf/2011-31618.pdf

Groups favoring the measure expressed disappointment, while organizations opposed to the original GIPSA rule said the revised rules more closely matched congressional intent in the 2008 farm bill. "While the final rule is a good first step, it is certainly not a last step,” says Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union president. “We are disappointed that Congress passed a Fiscal Year 2012 appropriations bill that prevents additional portions of the rule from advancing.”

According to J. Patrick Boyle, American Meat Institute president, “We are gratified that USDA has published a rule that more closely follows its farm bill mandate. Our concerns about the extremely costly and cumbersome June 2010 proposal are well-known and shared by many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. We remain concerned about both the necessity and costs of the new final rule, however.”