DARKE COUNTY — A Darke County man is calling for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to scrap rules he believes will hurt pork producers and processors, as well as pork consumers.
Rich Deaton, who is the Ohio Pork Council’s president and a resident of New Madison, Ohio, says the regulations — under the umbrella of the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, or GIPSA — would hurt the industry if enacted. He’s issued a call for agricultural producers to speak out.
“This regulation could restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry — putting farmers out of business in Ohio — and increase consumer prices for meat,” he said. “Ultimately, this rule could have devastating effects for all aspects of livestock production, including an explosion of unwarranted lawsuits.”
“It is critical pig farmers join the effort to fight against the GIPSA Rule that could lead to an entire shake up of our industry and our lives. If we don’t act now, the GIPSA regulation will reduce competition and stifle innovation. For those reasons, we’re asking the administration to withdraw the rule,” Deaton added.
The GIPSA Rule was originally scheduled to be implemented in December 2016 under the Obama Administration. However, no action was taken at that time. President Trump has ordered the USDA to delay implementation until October 19, 2017, in order for the USDA to further gather input from the public and the industry.
In a 2016 USDA press release, Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defended the proposed regulations as protecting agricultural producers from unfair industry practices.
“For years, American farmers have been calling for protections against the most damaging unfair and deceptive practices confronting family farms across the country,”Vilsack said. “Poultry growers in particular are vulnerable to market risks and concentration in the processor market. All too often, processors and packers wield the power, and farmers carry the risk. Today, USDA is taking a big step toward providing the protections that farmers deserve and need.”
Like Deaton, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) says GIPSA is a matter of government overreach and would cause unnecessary lawsuits.
“The Interim Final Rule broadens the scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) related to the use of ‘unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive practices’ and ‘undue or unreasonable preferences or advantages.’ Specifically, the regulation would deem such actions per se violations (meaning inherently illegal) of federal law even if they didn’t harm competition or cause competitive injury, prerequisites for winning PSA cases. The rule would create legal uncertainty, which could prompt structural changes in the industry, and be a bonanza for trial lawyers,” says NPPC.
“According to an Informa Economics study, the GIPSA Rule could cost the U.S. pork industry more than $420 million annually — more than $4 per hog — with most of the costs related to lawsuits brought under the ‘no competitive injury’ provision included in the interim final rule,” said Deaton.
Pork isn’t the only industry which could be affected. Darke County is home to a significant number of poultry producers, including those raising chickens, turkeys and eggs.