The House Ag Subcommittee on Livestock met Tuesday to review livestock and related USDA programs ahead of the 2012 Farm Bill. Subcommittee Chair David Scott, D-Ga., says the hearing was a productive one allowing members to explore in depth a wide array of issues with the department. He says it also brought several issues to light that require more thorough investigation in the future. According to Ranking Member Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, fair and transparent markets are necessary for orderly commerce between producers, packers, processors, retailers and consumers. But he says the policy process must be fair and transparent as well so that the path of good intentions does not lead to the land of unintended consequences.
Neugebauer is disappointed that the comment period on the GIPSA rule announced last month is only 60 days and will close before the USDA/DOJ workshops on the subject are completed. He joined 21 of his colleagues to request a 120-day extension.
USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Edward Avalos was the primary witness Tuesday and was joined by administrators from USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Agricultural Marketing Service and Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration.
Meanwhile, National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson sent a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday encouraging the GIPSA to oppose extending the comment period for the proposed rule. Johnson says extending the comment period into the fall calf season will give packers leverage to offer lower prices to producers as a fear mechanism. He says USDA has given a sufficient amount of time to comment on the rule and if the department deems it necessary to extend the comment time it should be minimal and only to meet USDA's needs.