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Group Applauds USDA Decision to Proceed with GIPSA Rule; Calls NCBA Attack on USDA Deceitful, Irresponsible

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Billings, Mont. Today, U.S. Agriculture Vilsack reportedly declined the request by 115 members of Congress to complete a comprehensive economic analysis of the proposed competition rule (GIPSA rule) published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). In a news release also issued today, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) called the Secretary's actions "irresponsible" and asserted that the GIPSA rule "could very likely result in financial devastation to a critical part of our country's economy."

"R-CALF USA fully supports the Secretary's decision," said R-CALF USA President/Region VI Director Max Thornsberry. "The call for a new economic analysis by less than a third of the House and NCBA was, pure and simple, an effort to delay if not completely derail the long-awaited GIPSA rule. NCBA could not be more deceptive in its attack on the Secretary given the Secretary had already granted NCBA an additional 90-day comment period in response to NCBA's July 8, 2010, letter to USDA that asked for an extension of the comment period so NCBA could perform its own economic analysis."

NCBA's request stated, "Therefore, we need (NCBA needs) additional time to adequately perform a full legal and economic analysis on the impacts of this rule."

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"Now that NCBA received the accommodation it requested, it has suddenly changed horses in order to achieve an even longer delay in the rule-making process," said Thornsberry.

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"NCBA's allegation that the GIPSA rule will cause harm to the economy is absolutely baseless and irresponsible," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. "NCBA claims outright that the GIPSA rule will hurt producers because it could result in packers' deciding to stop participating in marketing agreements with producers, which, NCBA claims, would result in all cattle being valued at an average price, regardless of quality."

Bullard said this is evidence that NCBA is carrying the packers' water by conveying the packers' hollow threats directly to producers.

"This is the same sort of threat the packers made during the rule-making for country-of-origin labeling (COOL) when packers threatened they would require producers to pay for third-party certification of origin claims, require producers to make their records available to the packers for "random producer audits,' and pass all the costs associated with COOL onto producers," he said. "Those were hollow threats then, and these are hollow threats today.

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"There is absolutely no language in the GIPSA rule that would prohibit value-added or other legitimate marketing agreements between producers and packers," Bullard continued. "These programs benefit packers as much as they benefit the producer, and the only way you could believe this NCBA nonsense is if there was absolutely no competition between packers for fed cattle or in the wholesale beef market."

He pointed to the 2007 multimillion dollar study that Congress directed GIPSA to complete, which states in part, "Packers also identified AMAs (alternative marketing arrangements) as an important element of branded products and meeting consumer demand by producing a higher quality, more consistent product."

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R-CALF USA, Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. R-CALF USA, a national, non-profit organization, is dedicated (more...)
 

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