NCC Applauds Georgia Governor’s Call for Withdrawal of GIPSA Rule

March 2, 2011

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal is right to recommend that the U.S. Department of Agriculture withdraw its proposed rule on the production and marketing of poultry and livestock because it would be “costly and disruptive” and goes beyond the intent of Congress, the National Chicken Council said today.

“Governor Deal’s comments are right on target and should be considered seriously by the Agriculture Department,” said NCC President George Watts. “The proposed rule should be withdrawn and reworked.”

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deal said the rule proposed by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) would “drastically change” the long-standing contractual relationships between poultry companies and the farmers who work with them to raise birds.

“Such a change would undoubtedly create a very costly and disruptive situation in Georgia and across the country where poultry is grown,” Deal wrote.

Deal, an attorney who served in Congress for 18 years before being elected Georgia’s governor last fall, said the GIPSA rule “goes well beyond” the intent of Congress when it directed the agency to make certain changes in its regulations as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. He said Congress had already considered the issue of what is called “competitive injury” and decided that it was being handled appropriately by the courts.

“It would be not only inappropriate but an action exceeding the Department’s regulatory authority to not honor Congress’ mandate on this issue,” Deal said. He said USDA should craft a final rule that “more closely adheres” to Congressional intent.

“Permit me to suggest that the best way to do this is to withdraw the current proposal and reissue a much more acceptable, pragmatic rule,” he wrote.

USDA is in the processing of considering the thousands of comments that were filed on the proposed rule. The agency has set no deadline for finalizing its process.

The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.

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