USDA: GIPSA RIDER UNACCEPTABLE: The USDA says the “GIPSA rider,” included in the House fiscal 2017 agriculture spending bill approved Tuesday, is not in the best interest of U.S. farmers, ranchers and rural communities. The rider, which would block the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration from finalizing regulations designed to protect poultry farmers who contract with large processing companies that typically own the birds, “demonstrates a complete lack of concern for honest, hardworking families who raise our poultry,” spokesperson Catherine Cochran says. “The focus should be on how to ensure a fair marketplace and a level playing field for our farming families — nothing less.”The GIPSA rider has quite a history. Members of the House Agricultural Appropriations Committee, in particular those that receive funding from the National Chicken Council and major poultry companies, squeeze this piece of legislation into the annual federal budget. It’s purpose is specifically to de-fund the Grain Inspectors Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) work on finalizing and enforcing rules to protect farmers. GIPSA is the agency within the US Department of Agriculture that is responsible for protecting livestock and chicken farmers from deceptive, anticompetitive, and abusive industry practices – like retaliation against a farmer for speaking out or for meeting with other farmers. The USDA and GIPSA are poised to finalize these rules this year, thanks to a one-year reprieve in the presence of the “GIPSA rider” in the federal budget. This opportunity was largely the result of the public outcry that followed the This Week Tonight with John Oliver show’s segment on the GIPSA rider in 2015, which was seen by some 5.2 million viewers. (The show featured footage from a documentary that RAFI is producing this year, Under Contract.) performance is the only thing that makes the difference in that feed efficiency. If that were true, the ranking could be a fair function of their own effort. But farmers know different. As Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) pointed out in her opposition comments, there are many things that can impact the farmers’ ranking that are company controlled: different qualities of feed, diseases and other problems with young chicks, and the company’s schedule for picking up and delivering birds, for few examples. The North Carolina farmer mentioned previously also wrote us this in response to Rep. Harris’s arguments: “With a ‘tournament contract,’ there is only one thing you can depend upon, and that is your pay can fluctuate several thousand dollars between flocks due to no fault of the grower.” The poultry companies are not required to develop a fair payment system because there are no rules in place governing the tournament system. As it operates now, a tournament contract may be a cost-controlling mechanism for the companies, but it puts farmers on a roller-coaster of variability in pay that can cause cash-flow and credit problems. This is a far cry from the positive-sounding “incentive” system described by Rep. Harris, and it’s a precise example of why we need the USDA and GIPSA to finalize the rule-making process.
Did your representative vote against farmers? If they supported the GIPSA rider (a Y = Yes vote), they did. If they voted against it (a N = No vote), then they didn’t, and you can tell them thanks!
|Bishop, Jr., Georgia||D||N|
|Herrera Beutler, Washington||R||N|
|Israel, New York||D||N|
|Lowey, New York||D||N|
|Price, North Carolina||D||N|
|Serrano, New York||D||N|
|Wasserman Schultz, Florida||D||N|
|Frelinghuysen, New Jersey||R||Y|
|Harris, MD, Maryland||R||Y|
|Jenkins, West Virginia||R||Y|
|Rogers, Kentucky, Chairman||R||Y|