September 8, 2011 Phone: 406-252-2516; [email protected]
Group Praises U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for Preserving Funding for the Finalization of the GIPSA Rule and Denying Funds for FMD Lab in Kansas
Washington, DC – The U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations (Senate Appropriations Committee) yesterday did not include language added earlier in the U.S. House of Representatives 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill to prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from finalizing the agency’s competition rule, known as the GIPSA rule.
The 2012 Agriculture Appropriations Bill passed yesterday by the full Senate Appropriations Committee would allow GIPSA to proceed with the finalization of the GIPSA rule first proposed in June 2010.
In addition, the Senate Appropriations Committee expressly rejected the $150 million request by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to construct the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas, an action that would at least delay DHS’ plan to begin conducting live foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) research on the mainland.
“We’ve been working closely with Senate Appropriations Committee members Senator Jon Tester of Montana and Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, both of whom are keenly aware of the conclusion by the National Academy of Sciences that the probability of a laboratory release of FMD from the Manhattan, Kansas, site approaches 70 percent over 50 years with a potential economic impact of $9 to $50 billion,” said R-CALF USA Bill Bullard adding, “We’re thankful for these Senator’s commitment to preserve the health of our U.S. cattle herd.”
Bullard said the Senate Appropriations Committee’s actions “are a huge relief for our nation’s livestock producers” but added, “We now need to preserve the Committee’s action on the Senate floor when the 2012 Appropriations Bill is brought to a vote in the 100-member Senate.”
Bullard could give no timeline as to when the measure would be brought to a vote by the full Senate but said it could happen within the next two weeks.
Speaking about the favorable GIPSA rule action, Bullard said his group is very pleased, “Even though Congress acted 90 years ago to direct USDA to prohibit monopolistic meatpackers from engaging in unfair trade practices that force family farmers and ranchers out of business, only now has GIPSA proposed a rule that would allow the agency to properly enforce this law.”
The proposed GIPSA rule is fiercely opposed by the nation’s concentrated meatpackers who view it as an obstacle to their plan to capture even more control over the U.S. livestock supply chain through vertical integration. To help them defeat the GIPSA rule, meatpackers have enlisted the support of their allied organizations including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), both of which have meatpackers seated on their governing boards.
Bullard explained that meatpackers view the GIPSA rule as a show stopper. “The GIPSA rule is the first step in prohibiting the unfair trade practices of the packers that have enabled them to capture full control over the poultry industry, from egg to plate; near full control over the hog industry, from breeding to plate; and substantial control over the cattle supply chain away from independent cattle producers and the competitive market forces that cattle producers support.”
“We don’t want packers to chickenize our cattle industry like they have our sister industries and the GIPSA rule is the only thing that would stand in the packers’ way,” Bullard said.
Just hours before the Senate Appropriations Committee convened, R-CALF USA and nine other groups joined a letter hand-delivered to each member of the Senate urging them “to resist and soundly reject any special interest efforts during the U.S. Senate appropriations legislative process that would delay or derail USDA’s ability to finalize the GIPSA rule.”
Attached to the hand-delivered letter was a letter signed by 190 livestock, farm, rural and consumer organizations that stated these groups wanted the Senate to allow USDA to move forward expeditiously to implement a final GIPSA rule.
“The 190 undersigned groups urge you to stand with our nation’s farmers, ranchers, growers and consumers to oppose the meatpacker and poultry special interest efforts to insulate themselves from federal scrutiny of their anti-competitive behavior and unfair treatment of farmers and ranchers,” the letter concludes.
“This truly is a battle between big agribusiness special interests and the interests of U.S. farmers, ranchers, and consumers and our letters clearly demonstrate there is overwhelming support among U.S. citizens for the swift and uninterrupted finalization of the GIPSA rule,” Bullard commented.
“We have a long, hard fight ahead of us to preserve our two victories and we urge U.S. farmers, ranchers and consumers to continue calling their U.S. Senators to urge them to support the current version of the Senate’s 2012 Appropriations Bill and to reject any attempt to delay or derail the GIPSA rule or any effort to fund the ill-conceived FMD research lab in Kansas,” he concluded.