The USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) should withdraw from its interim final rule on competitive injury, according to the National Chicken Council (NCC). The council submitted new comments to GIPSA on June 12.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on April 11 that it was extending the implementation date 180 days for its interim final rule on competitive injury, which was scheduled to go into effect on April 22, with an additional public comment period that closes today.
“With the extension notice, it was clear the administration recognized this is a complicated and controversial issue with deep economic consequences for American poultry and livestock producers,” said NCC President Mike Brown in April. “The comments filed obviously had an impact, and we thank the department for postponing the effective date to allow for a more thorough and meaningful review.”
In the new comments, Brown noted that, “Even by GIPSA’s own estimates, which we believe understate costs, the interim final rule promises to inflict approximately $1 billion in economic harm on the meat and poultry industries, with no quantifiable benefit. GIPSA has failed to provide a sufficient justification for imposing such burdensome, expensive changes to the poultry industry and does not explain the corresponding benefits this rulemaking provides to counterbalance the billions of dollars of detrimental effects this rule will have on the U.S. economy. Moreover, the agency fails to consider the negative consequences this rule will have on consumers and competition. And the IFR would inflict this harm despite uniform and contradictory court precedent rejecting the interpretation of the Packers and Stockyards Act embodied in the interim final rule.”
Specifically, NCC’s comments focus on:
- How the interim final rule is GIPSA’s attempt to set aside decades worth of settled law and accomplish via rulemaking what it could not accomplish in the courts—eliminating the requirement to show a likelihood of competitive injury to establish a violation of Sections 202(a) and (b) of the Packers and Stockyards Act;
- How this rulemaking is incompatible with the president’s regulatory reform agenda. Not only has GIPSA failed to identify regulations for repeal to ensure a net zero total cost increase from the interim final rule, but the interim final rule is also fundamentally irreconcilable with the administration’s efforts to eliminate burdensome regulations on industry and only promulgate rules whose benefits outweigh their costs; and
- Why GIPSA’s other proposed dispositions of the interim final rule are not the correct action for the agency to take. Any disposition of the rule other than withdrawing the rule would only serve to perpetuate uncertainty in the industry without resolving any of the core issues with the interim final rule.
“For these reasons, we urge GIPSA to pursue Option 4 and withdraw the interim final rule once and for all,” Brown concluded. “Furthermore, because the interim final rule is inextricably related to GIPSA’s two proposed rules on poultry grower ranking systems and unfair practices and undue preferences, we request the agency withdraw these two proposed rules as well.”