Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch
WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Yesterday the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that they sent part of the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) rule to the White House for final approval. While the final rule could make several important improvements for contract poultry and hog producers, USDA has abandoned the portions of the proposed rules that would help independent cattle and hog producers. By submitting this deficient final rule, the Obama administration has broken the 2008 campaign pledge to ‘issue regulations for what constitutes undue price discrimination.’
“The 2008 Farm Bill directed USDA to provide protections to poultry growers from some commonplace contract practices used by poultry companies to manipulate prices paid to growers and to prevent them from having access to the courts to settle contractual disputes. The Farm Bill also directed USDA to finally determine which meatpacker practices are unfair to hog farmers and cattle ranchers under a nearly century old law – the Packers & Stockyards Act – that has been largely unenforced. Most of the poultry provisions are included in the rule that went to the White House yesterday, but none of the livestock provisions survived to the final rule.
“The exact details of the final rule are not available, but it is clear that the administration has caved to meat industry pressure to abandon independent hog and cattle producers to unfair treatment at the hands of the large meatpackers. Cattle and hog producers should not have to wait another year or two for USDA to consider what is fair and unfair pricing; they have already waited more than 90 years since the Packers & Stockyards Act directed the agency to prevent unfair meatpacker abuses in 1921. USDA should immediately finish the livestock provisions and make them final.”