"We are pleased to see USDA Secretary Vilsack standing up to the nation's meat packing lobby on the GIPSA rules," said RMFU President Kent Peppler, a Mead, Colo. farmer. In a letter to Congressman Frank R. Lucas, Vilsack recently declined the request for a comprehensive economic analysis of the rules on livestock market competition published in June by the USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration.
"The livestock commodity organizations, representing the four or five companies that control 80 percent of meat processing in the United States, are crying disaster," Peppler said, "but what they mean is that the packers are too big to be held accountable. Meat packing giants have been gouging the livestock grower and the consumer for decades. In the process, by controlling markets, they've effectively destroyed independent, family-based chicken and hog farming, and they were well on their way to turning cattle growers into sharecroppers when Secretary Vilsack and the Department of Justice stepped in."
R-CALF USA, which represents independent ranchers in Colorado, Wyoming, and the Rocky Mountain West, dismissed the call for a new economic analysis as an effort to delay and derail GIPSA regulation of livestock markets. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard called the claim that the GIPSA rule will harm to the economy "absolutely baseless and irresponsible."
"Like any big, unregulated corporate power, the packers consider their own profits a matter of national security," Peppler said. "We've seen what 'too big to fail' means, and I think Americans are tired of hearing multinational corporations claim they are entitled to more than their fair share of the consumer's meat dollar. The new GIPSA rules will put an end to practices that let the packing industry hold the livelihoods of small ranchers hostage. An unregulated livestock market only serves the interests of companies big enough to bully their suppliers and their customers. If we don't control their greed now, we may not get another chance for a long time."
The rules process has already been delayed once, when the National Cattlemen's Beef Association successfully lobbied for a 90-day extension of the comment period. Consumers, ranchers, and packers have had five months to submit their responses, and the next step is for GIPSA to respond to those comments. "The GIPSA rules are a Bill of Rights for small ranchers," Peppler said. "We need them now."
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