Billings, Mont. Please attribute the following statement to R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told participants on a Monday conference call that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a new cost/benefit analysis of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration's (GIPSA's) proposed competition rule (GIPSA rule), and R-CALF USA supports him in those efforts.
The Secretary's announcement is consistent with the agency's rule-making process, as well as the Secretary's October letter sent to U.S. Representative Frank Lucas, in which he committed to conducting further analysis after the comment period on the rule was closed. In his letter to Lucas, the Secretary stated, "To ensure GIPSA has all relevant information and data to conduct further cost-benefit analysis, GIPSA solicited specific comments in the proposed rule."
The proposed rule was issued in June 2010, and the public comment period ended Nov. 22, 2010. According to USDA, a total of 60,700 public comments were filed, and of those, 32,215 were unique -- meaning the remainder likely are form letters.
Secretary Vilsack told us the GIPSA rule is intended to carry out the requirements of the 2008 Farm Bill and provide needed updates to current regulations under the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 to keep livestock markets functioning fairly and properly, and that the GIPSA rule is a starting point for reinvigorating Rural America.
I understood Secretary Vilsack believes the public comments will allow for a far more rigorous economic analysis, and once the new cost/benefit analysis is conducted, that USDA will put together the draft final rule to be reviewed at a later date by OMB (the Office of Management and Budget). After OMB completes its review, the final rule will be published in the Federal Register.
R-CALF USA holds that the outcome of the new cost/benefit analysis will show the GIPSA rule will result in tremendous benefits to Rural America. Secretary Vilsack is proceeding in a transparent and responsible manner to finalize the proposed GIPSA rule, and after waiting decades for USDA to properly implement and enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act, we truly appreciate his efforts.
We also believe by imparting fairness and transparency in U.S. livestock markets -- which will occur when the GIPSA rule takes effect -- that hundreds of thousands of independent livestock producers will once again capture their fair and competitive share of profits within U.S. livestock industries, profits that are now being hoarded by monopolistic packers. This will, in turn, reinvigorate Rural America through increased economic activity.
R-CALF USA is pleased Secretary Vilsack has stated he recognizes there are very real differences between the needs of small operations, mid-sized operations and commercial operations.
Additionally, we are grateful he also recognizes the disconnect between that 1 percent of the population involved in production agriculture and the rest of our population who consume our final products without having a true understanding of the difficulties and challenges that producers face.
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. R-CALF USA represents thousands of U.S. cattle producers on trade and marketing issues. Members are located across 46 states and are primarily cow/calf operators, cattle backgrounders, and/or feedlot owners. R-CALF USA directors and committee chairs are extremely active unpaid volunteers. R-CALF USA has dozens of affiliate organizations and various main-street businesses are associate members. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.