USDA Sued After Dropping New Fair Practices Rules

Dec 21, 2017  | 2 min  | Ep4318

The herbicide glyphosate got a reprieve from the EPA this week. A draft of its final report revealed the active ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup is not likely to be carcinogenic. The EPA will take comments in early 2018.

Another of the federal government’s alphabet soup of agencies, The Grain Inspectors, Packers and Stockyards Administration, or GIPSA, pulled back on a rule adopted late in the Obama era.

Colleen Bradford Krantz reports.

USDA is being sued over its decision to scuttle rule changes that would have granted livestock producer’s leeway in challenging meat packers and poultry processors over what some consider unfair practices.

Changes to the Packers and Stockyards Act, proposed in December 2016, were known as the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. If enacted, they would have allowed farmers to show they had individually faced a competitive disadvantage due to the actions of a packer or other company, rather than having to show an effect on the entire industry.

The debate has become particularly important to the swine and poultry industries as many producers tend to operate under contracts with some of the nation’s largest pork and chicken companies. The lawsuit, filed by Lincoln, Nebraska-based Organization for Competitive Markets, a Nebraska beef producer, and Alabama poultry farmers, asks the court to force USDA to reinstate the rules.

USDA withdrew the proposed changes in October, saying it is inconsistent with past court decisions.

The pending lawsuit, filed last week in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis, claims those past decisions prove there should be a clarifying rule to “protect farmers from predatory trade practices.”  In addition, the petition argues that the 2008 Farm Bill required the agency to put in place portions of the proposed rule – including guidelines to help USDA determine what might be an unfair practice.

Producer Colleen Bradford Krantz can be reached at colleen.krantz@iptv.org

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