.....the rest went with the money
Updated R-CALF USA Member Alert
(This is not a News Release)
To: R-CALF USA Members and Affiliates
From: Bill Bullard, CEO
Date: June 16, 2011
Subject: One Lone Congresswoman Stands Up for U.S. Livestock Producers
With only one congressional member in the entire U.S. House of Representatives willing to fight to preserve competitive markets for U.S. livestock producers, no amendment was offered to strike the appropriations language that would kill the GIPSA rule. Late last night, Representative Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat from Ohio, was the only U.S. Representative to stand on the floor of the House and go on record in support of U.S. farmers and ranchers. Congresswoman Kaptur included strong words in opposition to the House’s effort to kill the GIPSA rule and she included the recent Farm Bureau letter in opposition to the appropriations language as well as the letter signed by over 140 organizations in full support of the GIPSA rule, which includes R-CALF USA, its affiliates, and many other organizations fighting on our side.
I have copied the relevant Congressional Record below for your review.
We will now have to defeat this anti-GIPSA rule language in the U.S. Senate. And, we are thankful that Congresswoman Kaptur included such strong opposition to the House’s action as this will help us win in the Senate.
The House has sold out U.S. livestock producers, there’s no other way to put it.
The House has not yet voted on the Appropriations Bill so we will keep you informed if any new developments occur.
Thanks to all of you who worked so hard to win this uphill battle. We didn’t win this one, but by no means are we done fighting. THANKS!
From the Congressional Record: June 15, 2011
Ms. KAPTUR. I just wanted to ask the gentlelady if she would find the present time convenient to enter into the discussion regarding GIPSA, though we are on this amendment at this point.
Mrs. LUMMIS. With the Chairman's leave, I would consent.
The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman is recognized.
Mrs. LUMMIS. Would you consent to a departure as I use the remainder of my 5 minutes to discuss the issue of the stockyards and the GIPSA rule?
The Acting CHAIR. The gentlewoman is recognized for the remaining time.
Mrs. LUMMIS. I yield to my colleague from Ohio.
Ms. KAPTUR. I thank the gentlewoman. And while I will not offer an amendment to strip section 721 , a legislative provision that prevents the U.S. Department of Agriculture from doing its job as instructed in the farm bill, relative to fair competition in meat products so consumers get fairly priced meats, I otherwise rise in strong opposition to the language that's in the bill.
And when the authorizing committee wrote the farm bill, USDA was directed to use the existing packers and stockyards act to restore fairness to livestock and poultry contract markets. But instead of allowing the agency to do its job, Congress, in an uneven-handed way, has allowed itself to become captured by the consolidated meat industry.
And while ranchers, farmers and producers are increasingly being squeezed out of the markets, and small, local slaughterhouses continue to close, large consolidated players manipulate the rules to favor their own business operations, and meat prices rise. Congress simply can't stand by silent.
So on behalf of the millions of farmers, ranchers and producers that struggle every day to survive as they face the gargantuan task of competing against monopolistic entities, I oppose the base language in 721 .
And I would like to place two statements in the Record, a letter from the American Farm Bureau opposing section 721 and a letter from over 140 organizations supporting the pro-competition proposals made by the Department of Agriculture.
Washington, DC, May 31, 2011.
Hon. Marcy Kaptur,
House of Representatives, House Office Building, Washington, DC.
DEAR CONGRESSWOMAN KAPTUR: On behalf of the six million families represented by the American Farm Bureau Federation, we write to support your amendment to allow the Agriculture Department (USDA) the opportunity to complete reviewing the 60,000 comments received and the proposed rule entitled ``Implementation of Regulations Required Under Title XI of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008; Conduct in Violation of the Act.'' It is also imperative that USDA continue its economic analysis of the rule.
Farm Bureau is in the unique position of representing every species impacted by this rule. We also have no affiliation with major packers, integrators or processors, and therefore our only interest is the impact of this rule on farmers and ranchers. Because of this unique position, there are several provisions in this rule that we strongly support, while others give us pause.
Generally speaking, Farm Bureau's philosophy supports a market environment where our farmers and ranchers can sell their product in a way that best fits with their individual operation and risk aversion level. Our policy clearly states that ``We support efforts to ensure open markets to all producers.'' Over the years, our farmers and ranchers have recognized the need for a referee in the marketplace, and Farm Bureau policy supports the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) in that role. Some of our policy supporting the authority of GIPSA includes:
``We ..... oppose any attempt to lessen the ability of [GIPSA] to adequately enforce the act and its regulations.''
``We support more vigorous enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws in keeping with original intent; to include ..... [the] Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.''
``The Packers and Stockyards Act should be amended to ..... strengthen the ability of GIPSA to stop predatory practices in the meat packing industry.''
We support ``establishing GIPSA as the overall authority and provider of oversight to ensure livestock contracts are clearly-written, confidentiality concerns are addressed, investments are protected .....'' as well as ``enhanced price transparency, [and] price discovery,'' and ensuring that ``contractors honor the terms of contracts.''
These overarching policy principles guide Farm Bureau's comments on this proposed rule.
It is also worth noting that Farm Bureau has consistently requested thorough economic analysis from agencies when promulgating new rules. Without such an analysis it is difficult for America's farmers and ranchers to assess the true impact of rules and to understand all of the implications of proposed rules. This rule is no exception.
We oppose language to preclude USDA from reviewing the comments and completing their economic analysis and are strongly opposed to any action that would stop work on that rule.
House of Representatives,
Washington, DC, April 21, 2011.
ATTN: Agriculture & Appropriations Legislative Aides
DEAR REPRESENTATIVE: As a result of rapid consolidation and vertical integration, the livestock and poultry markets of this nation have reached a point where anti-competitive practices dominate, to the detriment of producers and consumers. Numerous economic studies in recent years have demonstrated the economic harm of current market structures and practices, and have called for greater enforcement of existing federal laws in order to restore competition to livestock and poultry markets.
Until recently, Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have largely ignored these trends. Fortunately, Congress included language in the 2008 Farm Bill to require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to write regulations, using its existing Packers and Stockyards Act authorities, to begin to restore fairness and competition in livestock and poultry markets.
On June 22, 2010, the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Agency (GIPSA) issued proposed rules to implement the 2008 Farm Bill mandates, and to address related anticompetitive practices in the livestock and poultry industries. These reforms are long overdue and begin to respond to the criticisms by farm groups, consumer groups, the Government Accountability Office and USDA's Inspector General about USDA's past lack of enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The proposed GIPSA rules define and clarify terms in the Act in order to make enforcement more effective, and to provide clarity to all players in livestock and poultry markets.
The Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 makes it unlawful for packers, swine contractors, and live poultry dealers to engage in any ``unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practice or device,'' or to ``make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person or locality in any respect, or subject any particular person or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect.'' The ambiguity of these terms has resulted in uncertainty in the marketplace and hindered enforcement of the Act.
Key provisions of the proposed GIPSA rules would:
Provide contract growers with commonsense protections when making expensive investments in facilities on their farms to meet the packer or poultry company requirements; provide growers, farmers, and ranchers with access to the information necessary to make wise business decisions regarding their operations; require transparency and eliminate deception in the way packers, swine contractor and poultry companies pay farmers; eliminate collusion between packers in auction markets; and provide clarity about the types of industry practices the agency will consider to be unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or when certain practices give unreasonable preference or advantage. These are all terms used in the existing statute, which have never been adequately defined.
Prohibit retaliation by packers, swine contractors or poultry companies against farmers for speaking about the problems within industry or joining with other farmers to voice their concerns and seek improvements. Currently, many farmers are often retaliated against economically for exercising these legal rights.
Allow premiums to be paid to livestock producers who produce a premium product, but requires the packer or swine contractors to keep records to detail why they provide certain pricing and contract terms to certain producers.
Reduce litigation in the industry by eliminating the ambiguity in interpretation of the terms of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Such ambiguity leads to litigation as farmers and packers seek court action to clarify the intent of the Act.
GIPSA has received approximately 60,000 comments on the proposed rule during the five-month public comment period that ended in November 22 of 2010. USDA is in the process of analyzing those comments, and providing the in-depth cost-benefit analysis necessary before issuing the final rule.
Because of the great importance of this rule to livestock and poultry producers and consumers, and the large volume of misinformation about the rule perpetuated by livestock and poultry trade associations and packer-producer groups, the undersigned organizations are writing to reiterate our strong support for the GIPSA rule and for its swift publication in final form.
We urge your support for the GIPSA rulemaking process, and its efforts to restore fairness and competition in our nation's livestock and poultry markets.
Agriculture and Land Based Training Association (CA); Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association; Alliance for a Sustainable Future (PA); Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO)--MT; Ambler Environmental Advisory Council; American Agriculture Movement; American Corn Growers Association; American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), Local 3354, USDA-St. Louis (representing Rural Development and Farm Loan employees in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas); American Grassfed Association; American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association; Ashtabula-Lake-Geauga County Farmers Union; BioRegional Strategies; Buckeye Quality Beef Association
[Page: H4262] GPO's PDF
(Ohio); C.A.S.A. del Llano (TX) California Dairy Campaign; California Farmers Union; California Food & Justice Coalition; Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform; Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment; Carolina Farm Stewardship Association; Cattle Producers of Louisiana; Cattle Producers of Washington; Center for Celebration of Creation; Center for Food Safety; Center for Rural Affairs; Chemung County Church Women United (NY); Chemung County Council of Churches (NY); Chemung County Council of Women (NY); Church Women United of Chemung County (NY); Church Women United of New York State; Citizens for Sanity.Com, Inc.; Citizens for Sludge-Free Land; Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association; Community Alliance for Global Justice; Community Farm Alliance (Kentucky); Community Food Security Coalition; Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias; Court St Joseph #139, Coming/Elmira, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Corning, NY; Crawford Stewardship Project; Cumberland Counties for Peace & Justice; Dakota Resource Council; Dakota Rural Action; Davidson College Office of Sustainability; Ecological Farming Association; Endangered Habitats League; Family Farm Defenders; Farm Aid; Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance; Farmworker Association of Florida; Fay-Penn Economic Development Council; Federation of Southern Cooperatives; Food & Water Watch; Food Chain Workers Alliance; Food Democracy Now!; Food for Maine's Future; Gardenshare: Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Everybody Eats;
Georgia Poultry Justice Alliance; Grassroots International; Heartland Center/Office of Peace and Justice for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana and the Integrity of Creation; Hispanic Organizations Leadership Alliance; Idaho Rural Council; Illinois Stewardship Alliance; Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND); Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska; Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming; Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy; Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement; Iowa Farmers Union; Island Grown Initiative Izaak Walton League; Kansas Cattlemen's Association.
Kansas Farmers Union; Kansas Rural Center; Ladies of Charity of Chemung County (NY); Land Stewardship Project; Main Street Opportunity Lab; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Michael Fields Agricultural Institute; Michigan Farmers Union; Michigan Land Trustees; Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance; Midwest Environmental Advocates; Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Association; Minnesota Farmers Union; Missionary Society of St. Columban; Mississippi Livestock Markets Association; Missouri Farmers Union; Missouri Rural Crisis Center; National Catholic Rural Life Conference; National Family Farm Coalition; National Farmers Organization; National Farmers Union; National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association; National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition; Nebraska Farmers Union; Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society; Nebraska Wildlife Federation; Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility; New England Small Farm Institute; Nonviolent Economics; North Carolina Contract Poultry Growers Association; Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance; Northeast Organic Farming Association--NY; Northeast Organic Farming Association, Interstate Council; Northern Plains Resource Council; Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance; Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association; Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance; Ohio Farmers Union; Oregon Livestock Producers Association; Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility; Oregon Rural Action; Organic Consumers Association; Organic Farming Research Foundation; Organic Seed Alliance; Organization for Competitive Markets; Partnership for Earth Spirituality; Past Regents Club, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Diocese of Rochester, NY; PCC Natural Markets; Pennsylvania Farmers Union; Pennypack Farm and Education Center (PA); Pesticide Action Network North America; Pomona Grange #1, Chemung County NY; Powder River Basin Resource Council (WY); R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America; Rocky Mountain Farmers Union; Rural Advancement Foundation International--USA (RAFI-USA); Rural Coalition; Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia; Slow Food USA; South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association; South Dakota Stockgrowers Association; St John the Baptist Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, Elmira, NY; Sustain LA; Taos County Economic Development Corporation; Texas Farmers Union; The Cornucopia Institute; Tilth Producers of Washington; Trappe Landing Farm & Native Sanctuary; Veteran Grange #1118, Chemung County, NY; Virginia Association for Biological Farming; Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC); WhyHunger; Women, Food and Agriculture Network.
The meatpackers have a stranglehold on this House, scaring Members with millions of dollars in campaign contributions and real threats of political retribution. Instead of engaging in well-meaning public debate and attempting to win on the merits of the argument, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which has a right to speak out, but not a right to intimidate, sent out a national notice to its members to harass the American Farm Bureau. This is not the nature of well-meaning debate and, for many, has crossed the line of propriety.
I urge my colleagues to resist the misinformation and to stand strong for independent producers and family farmers and ranchers.
Section 721 of the base bill goes further than many realize. It will stop USDA from conducting its economic analysis of this industry.
The Acting CHAIR. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.
Mr. KING of Iowa. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. KING of Iowa. I yield to the gentlelady from Ohio.
Ms. KAPTUR. I thank the gentleman so very much for that kind effort.
The current proposal will silence the nearly 60,000 comments on the rule because it will prevent USDA from reading the record. And, finally, it will undermine long overdue fairness in poultry and livestock contracts for millions of farmers, ranchers and producers.
By allowing section 721 to remain in the bill, the House is standing with the few big meatpackers and against the many thousands and thousands of producers.
To understand how illogical this committee's action is, I refer the House to the committee report where, on competition issues, the committee directed USDA to submit legal documents by June 10, 5 days ago, and before the House began consideration of this bill. On its face, the committee has directed the agency to comply with something before the House has even considered the bill. Is this proper?
Furthermore, I would note that, ironically, if section 721 were to be implemented, the agency would not be able to comply with its own report language. If there ever was a time that the Appropriations Committee has overstepped its bounds, this is it.
After the 2002 farm bill, this committee prevented USDA from implementing an important provision of law known as the Country of Origin labeling. It was the same consolidated meat packing industry crying from the rafters with claims of exaggerated economic costs which was behind the meat labeling COOL delay. We seem to have returned to the dark days, recycling the same talking points.
It took us almost 8 years and, finally, consumers now have the legal right to see where their meat comes from, which is what the vast majority of the American people wanted. So on behalf of the millions of farmers, ranchers and independent producers, I pledge to continue this fight and to prevent a similar 8 years of delay and confusion on USDA competition rules in the meat industry.
Let USDA do its job.