Bullard said this baseless claim was made in 2003 by Sparks Companies, and history has now proven that it was nothing more than meatpacker propaganda.
"Sparks also is the firm that tried to scare livestock producers into opposing USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service's (FSIS') proposed rule to eliminate spinal cord material from cattle carcasses and to significantly reduce the amount of bone and bone marrow in any product labeled by the packers as "meat." Sparks reported that livestock producers likely would be hurt by this food safety initiative intended to protect consumers against adulterated products by stating, "Lower prices for livestock producers likely will result, as meat processors, searching for offsets in an effort to maintain margins, would be unable to pass much of the cost on to consumers." (Emphasis in the original.)
Recently, the American Meat Institute (AMI), another meatpacker lobbying group, released a study that attacks the GIPSA rule by claiming consumer meat prices would increase about 3.3 percent and 104,000 U.S. jobs would be lost if the GIPSA rule were implemented.
"But that study is a deception," Bullard said. "It does not assess the impact of the rule, but instead assesses what AMI views to be the impact if the meatpackers conspired to retaliate against the GIPSA rule by refusing to comply with the rule's provisions that would increase transparency, openness and fairness in the meatpackers' livestock procurement practices. AMI's study is nothing but a political threat against every American, and if the meatpackers actually follow through with their threat, the U.S. Department of Justice (Justice) likely would step in quickly to prevent the packers from unlawfully conspiring to harm consumers and workers."
"We suspect the new study, likely to be released during the meatpacker lobbies' Nov. 10 extravaganza, will similarly be rooted in a false and deceptive foundation because the rule does not cause or create any of the harms the groups have so alarmingly attributed to the rule," added Thornsberry.
Thornsberry said the GIPSA rule as it applies to the cattle industry necessarily requires the meatpackers to comply with the nearly 90-year-old Packers and Stockyards Act by: 1) clarifying that an unlawful act is unlawful, period (regardless of whether it is targeted at the entire industry or a single individual; 2) requiring packers to document their cattle procurement transactions so any anticompetitive conduct can be quickly identified and corrected; 3) preventing packers from prejudicing or disadvantaging livestock producers; 4) requiring packers to disclose samples of the myriad of different contracts they use to procure livestock; and, 5) prohibiting inherently anticompetitive practices such as packers selling cattle to other packers and multiple packers sharing a single cattle buyer.
"We're not expecting anything even close to the truth when these pro-meatpacker groups unveil their self-serving study, and based on the history of the consulting firm they've used and the hype they're trying to generate, we'd better be prepared for a spectacular deception," concluded Bullard.
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