Administration's (GIPSA) proposed rule. The panel, hosted by National Farmers Union (NFU), was comprised of Craig Watts,a contract poultry grower from North Carolina; Bob Mack, a cattle feeder from South Dakota; and Hoefling, an independent pork producer and Iowa Farmers Union member.
"The proposed GIPSA rule will make important improvements to competition in the market," said Hoefling. "The rule will allow producers who have been harmed by processors in violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act to press charges. These are reasonable, fair requirements that will make a big difference for producers like me. I look forward to working to see that the process produces regulations that work for the livestock industry."
The broken livestock marketing system has taken a toll on rural America. The number of U.S. beef and hog operations has been rapidly declining over the last 30 years. In 1980, there were 660,000 hog farms, while only 67,000 remain today. Thirty years ago there were 1.3 million beef cattle operations, but only
950,000 today. The GIPSA rule would prevent packers and processors from abusing their market power and would protect the rights of producers.
"The voices of U.S. producers are important to be heard through this rulemaking process," said NFU President Roger Johnson. "U.S. family farmers and ranchers have been at the mercy of packers for far too long. The proposed rule is essentially a Farmer and Rancher Bill of Rights."
The proposed rule addresses concerns that have been discussed in the industry for decades. The rule is within the scope of GIPSA's authority granted by the Packers and Stockyards Act and was developed in response to the 2008 Farm Bill, which requires USDA to carry out specific rulemaking to improve fairness in the marketing of livestock and poultry. The comment period on the proposed rule ends Nov. 22.