06.18.10

USDA Proposes Rules To Increase Competition And Promote Fairness For Producers In The Livestock And Poultry Industries

Leahy Welcomes Effort That Was Prompted By 2008 Farm Bill

[(FRIDAY, June 18) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) Friday released draft rules intended to increase competition and fairness in the livestock and poultry industries.  The rules were mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill, which Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) helped negotiate as the most senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  The proposed standards would further define practices that are unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive; establish new protections for producers who are required to make expensive capital upgrades; bar packers from purchasing livestock from other packers or from communicating prices to competitors; and improve competition in the markets by limiting exclusive arrangements between packers and dealers.  The proposed rules will remain open to public comments until August 23, 2010.  Leahy’s comments on the draft rules follow:]

“I welcome USDA’s efforts to address concerns Congress laid out in the 2008 Farm Bill about the need to improve market transparency, fairness and competition for producers.  Over the last 20 years the livestock and poultry industries have undergone rapid consolidation, which has shifted the ways markets work and undermined the bargaining position of farmers.  At this same time we have also seen a growing discrepancy between the prices received by farmers and the prices paid by consumers.  This disparity is especially visible in the prices that hardworking dairy farmers get for their milk.

“For Rural America to thrive we need fairness and transparency in the markets upon which both farmers and consumers depend.  This proposed rule, together with the agriculture antitrust workshops that USDA and the Justice Department are holding around the country, are encouraging indications that the Obama Administration shares these goals and is committed to protecting our farmers from market manipulation and unfair practices.”

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