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NCBA Painting Themselves Into A Corner?

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Well-known member
Oct 13, 2007
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We were angered to see recent headline of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) claiming "147 Members of Congress Corner USDA on Proposed GIPSA Rule."

South Dakota Stockgrowers questioned the accuracy of many of the statements by NCBA President Bill Donald and remain curious as to what NCBA actually cornered.

The NCBA press release was apparently referring to a ‘dear colleague' letter circulated by Representatives Jim Costa, Reid Ribble and Frank Lucas in the U.S. House and signed by 144 other House members. That's barely one-third of the 435 House members and that portion of the pie doesn't have any corners.

The letter was seemingly brought forward by the American Meat Institute (AMI) and NCBA's lobbyists in an attempt to derail the proposed new GIPSA (Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) rule - a rule that was ordered by Congress via the 2008 Farm Bill to clarify certain anti-competitive marketing practices currently used by the meat packing industry. NCBA claims that they "stood up for U.S. cattlemen and women" when they initiated this letter.

They certainly don't stand for me. In fact NCBA's statements fly in the face of the adamant support of the proposed GIPSA rule by the producer-members of the SD Stockgrowers Association and 239 other producer organizations nationwide. NCBA speaks for their own membership which, by our estimates, is less than five percent all U.S. cattle producers and far from cornering anyone.

The purpose of NCBA's letter to Congress was to request a new public comment period before the final GIPSA rules are published claiming that USDA should revise their proposed rule based on more public input.

I don't buy it. When the proposed rules were first published in June 2010, USDA opened a 60-day period for public comment. Following complaints from NCBA, AMI, and their meat packing friends, the USDA extended the comment period by an additional 90-days resulting in over 60,000 submitted comments from producers and organizations like NCBA and AMI.

During that same time, USDA hosted a series of "listening sessions" across the country where hundreds of individuals and organizations were represented including NCBA, AMI, and several of the meat packing companies.

It seems clear to me that NCBA, AMI and their meat packer friends are not actually interested in a revision to these rules. They intend to kill the GIPSA rule because they have benefited from the lack of defined rules and regulations in the Act for decades.

The intent of the proposed GIPSA rules is to bring about a transparent livestock market and hold meat packers accountable for their captive supplies, unfair trade actions, unprecedented market access and other market irregularities. If the meat packers are truly innocent of these accusations then the transparency called for in the proposed rules should be the perfect opportunity to prove their claims that they aren't doing anything wrong.

Maybe they actually cornered themselves.

(Shane Kolb currently serves as the vice-president of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. He works as a full-time brand inspector for the State of South Dakota, and runs a family cow-calf operation near Meadow, South Dakota.)

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