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MFBF to review new GIPSA rule

The new GIPSA rule that was recently issued by USDA has brought mixed reactions from the Montana Farm Bureau Federation.

“Although we applaud the publication of the rule and agree with AFBF that there are many positive aspects overall, we are adamantly opposed to the ‘livestock purchasing practices’ provision,” notes MFBF President Bob Hanson, a cattle rancher from White Sulphur Springs who also serves on the American Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) is pleased the Agriculture Department’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) has extended its comment period by 90 days on its Packers and Stockyards Act proposed rule.

In a recently released statement, the country’s largest agricultural organization stated, “The rule’s regulatory changes will impact each operation differently. The impact of this rule on producers will vary depending on the type of animal produced on an operation, the ways the producer markets his or her product, and the location of a producer’s operation relative to slaughter and processing facilities. Many other portions of the rule go beyond those issues clearly covered in Farm Bureau policy and will require additional analysis.”

Tara Smith, director of Congressional Relations, AFBF, notes that Farm Bureau is in a unique position in that they represent not just cattle ranchers, but also poultry and hog farmers. “The production situation in these industries (particularly in poultry) is significantly different than in cattle. Some of the provisions in this rule aim to put an end to abuses that have occurred in the poultry industry for entirely too long, and these provisions are directly supported by Farm Bureau policy,” says Smith. “That said, we have been undergoing a thorough legal, economic and policy analysis, and we have already identified areas of the rule that we will not support. For example, we agree with Montana that the provision that deals with livestock purchasing practices gives us great concern. We believe USDA already has the authority necessary to address any collusion they currently perceive in the marketplace, and we see a multitude of ways that this provision could cause harm to our producers and disrupt their current marketing arrangements.”

“Montana Farm Bureau is a grass roots organization and our policy is set by our members every November,” notes Hanson. “As Montana is a cattle and grain state, we absolutely must work with our members statewide to get their comments and hear their concerns about this rule. In accordance with our members’ policy, we will be following up vigorously on this issue. We look forward to commenting on the rule after additional analysis.”

Final comments are due in November.

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