Fight Continues for Family Farmers Following Ag Appropriations Conference Report

17 11 2011

WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union (NFU) sent a letter today to all members of Congress expressing concerns with the Fiscal Year 2012 (FY 2012) agriculture appropriations language in the conference committee report for H.R. 2112.

The conference committee included a policy rider that would prevent the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from making any further progress on the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule. The rider effectively prohibits USDA from issuing any other rules related to GIPSA beyond what was sent to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on Nov. 3. As a result, only some of the poultry provisions included in the original GIPSA rule will be published as a Final or Interim Final rule, and none of the pork or beef aspects of the rule will be finalized.

“The report is disheartening for the fate of U.S. family farm agriculture,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “The policy rider that precludes implementation of the GIPSA rule is upsetting. Political pressure and disingenuous economic studies paid for by meatpackers and processors have stopped the rule that would have returned basic fairness and competition provisions to farmers and ranchers. The most critical parts of the rule that Congress proposes to prohibit include a clearer definition of USDA’s interpretation of competitive injury, which would address the fundamental problems that have plagued the livestock and poultry industries. Recent court decisions have overturned longstanding USDA interpretations of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Farmers and ranchers are now required to meet an impossible standard of providing evidence that deleterious packer action against them was so egregious that the action itself caused damage to the whole industry.”

Further, after the financial meltdown of 2008, Congress increased protection of the economy by passing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. Among the protections included in the legislation was expanded authority of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to improve oversight of derivatives transactions. Such authority is needed to prevent a repeat of the financial industry meltdown. Now Congress is proposing to slash the CFTC budget and preclude it from enforcing the legislation it passed just one year ago.

“This is almost as bad as repealing Dodd-Frank. Reducing funding will make CFTC’s job nearly impossible,” said Johnson. “We cannot expect to avoid another economic crisis if we do not provide regulators with the resources to do their jobs.”

The proposed CFTC budget was a much-needed $308 million. The conference committee recommendation only provides $205 million.

“NFU will continue to fight for family farmers and ranchers,” said Johnson. “NFU cannot support a bill that stops the process by which greater competition and a fair marketplace for farmers and ranchers could have been achieved.”

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17 11 2011
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