The House is expected to vote on legislation this week that would fund the USDA and other agencies in 2012. The measure contains language that would stop USDA's Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Agency from spending funds to move forward with its proposed rule on livestock and poultry marketing. Many cattle industry groups, including the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and Texas Cattle Feeders Association, want to ensure that provision remains in the bill. TCFA Chairman Bo Kizziar says the provision is an important application of the government's system of checks and balances.
Kizziar says the rule ultimately has the potential to take the beef industry back 30 years by stifling the innovative efforts of U.S. cattle producers to add value and enhance the quality and safety of their products for consumers in the U.S. and abroad.
However, there are groups against the provision. R-CALF USA is calling on members to contact their congressmen to move the GIPSA rule forward in the Senate. R-CALF believes if they can gain support in the Senate they can win.
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., says the GIPSA rule is intended to promote transparent and efficient markets, but he has heard from various leaders in the cattle industry who say the rule will hurt producers. Lucas says he keeps producer testimonies in his minds as he considers the implications of the proposal, but he is also mindful that not everyone opposes the rule. He says it's important for him and his colleagues to consider all possible consequences of the rule and to know how much the rule will cost, who will bear those costs and what will be gained in return.
Lucas says USDA has been pushing forward with their agenda in publishing a final rule instead of using a cost-benefit analysis to aid in the decision-making process. He recently joined 146 other congressmen demanding Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack put the rule on hold until its full implications can be considered with a thorough economic impact analysis. He says Congress has been clear in the desire for an open development process for the rule, including the legislation from the Appropriations Committee including language that could hinder further work on the GIPSA rule.