Help rural American farmers and ranchers by finalizing USDA rules

Farmers and ranchers have waited years for USDA to institute basic fairness protections in the contract poultry and livestock industry.

USDA seemed to be making progress last year, when it began accepting comments on three rules. The Center for Rural Affairs submitted comments to the Federal Register supporting all three rules and posted them to our website.

However, they opened up the comments again on April 12 for another 60 days, delaying the rules even further. We submitted the below comments in support of basic fairness for family farmers and ranchers.

Our submission:

This comment is in regards to the rule (GIPSA-2016-PSP-0009-RULEMAKING-0348) posted in the Federal Register Number 2017-07361 on April 12, 2017. The Center for Rural Affairs urges the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to make the Interim Final Rule on Competitive Injury effective immediately (option 1). 

This competitive injury rule represents an important step in creating a level playing field for small family businesses who contract with packing companies. Many rural communities struggle from lack of economic opportunity, and contract poultry and livestock production is an important source of jobs and income for many rural people. These hard-working farmers and ranchers who contract with meat-packing companies when raising poultry and livestock deserve the important and common-sense provision that this rule provides. 

Specifically, the rule makes it clear that ranchers and farmers do not have to do something nearly impossible - prove a harm to the whole market - in order to prove that a practice by a packing company is unfair. 

Farmers and ranchers who raise poultry and livestock on contract have waited many years for this protection to be finalized. Please help rural American farmers and ranchers by making the interim final rule effective immediately.