For Immediate Release:
October 11, 2017
Billings, Mont. – In strongly worded comments sent to the office of the U.S. Agriculture Secretary over the weekend, R-CALF USA urged that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) not be demoted by folding it into its sister agency, the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Secretary Perdue had proposed this change in his reorganization plan for the USDA issued in September.
The group’s comments assert the principle role of GIPSA is to promote fair business practices and competitive markets, foster fair competition and guard against deceptive and fraudulent practices. Secretary Perdue, the group states, has a statutory duty to “strengthen the family farm system” of agriculture.
According to the group, GIPSA’s role in protecting the competitiveness of markets is perhaps “the most important function that Congress has assigned to the USDA to strengthen the family farm system of agriculture.”
The problem, the group points out, is that GIPSA has not properly carried out its statutory function for decades, which has allowed multinational meatpackers to act with impunity to reduce if not vanquish competition in U.S. livestock markets.
This erosion of competition in U.S. livestock markets is, the group argues, the greatest challenge facing U.S. livestock and poultry producers.
The comments explain that the reason GIPSA has not yet protected marketplace competition is because the USDA has lacked necessary leadership to perform its obligation of strengthening America’s family farm system of agriculture.
Pointing to the long-delayed GIPSA rules the group strongly supports but which Perdue has further delayed, the group wrote that it is disappointed because the new Administration has not yet followed through with its promise to drain the swamp. The group contends the USDA continues to allow the meatpackers’ corporate lobbyists, particularly the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), to dictate agency policies.
In its conclusion, the group urges Perdue to keep “the already innocuous GIPSA” under his control so he can ensure that the agency can begin to carry out its statutory duty to protect U.S. livestock markets.
R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle and sheep industries.