Agriculture-funding bill includes rider preventing 'GIPSA rule' implementation

Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the fiscal 2017 agricultural spending bill that would prevent the USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) from implementing regulations that would negatively affect livestock producers.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) supported the rider, which was sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., and passed on a 26-24 vote. Congress included in the 2008 Farm Bill instructions for GIPSA to address issues mostly related to the poultry industry, but the agency proposed in 2010 a sweeping regulation, the so-called GIPSA Rule, that would have limited farmers' ability to sell animals, dictated the terms of private contracts, made it harder to get farm financing, raised consumer prices and reduced choices, stifled industry innovation and led to more vertical integration in the livestock industry.

An Informa Economics study of the proposed rule found that it would have cost the U.S. agricultural economy almost 23,000 jobs, reduced GDP by $1.56 billion annually and cost the pork supply chain $333 million a year.

The regulation prompted tens of thousands - more than 16,000 from the pork industry alone - in comments in opposition. Congress subsequently "defunded" the rule's implementation several times.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in March indicated that USDA would move forward with the rule, but it was uncertain if the regulation would follow the mandates included in the 2008 Farm Bill or again include provisions considered and rejected by Congress during that Farm Bill debate.

The rider approved as part of the agriculture appropriations bill only would apply to actions taken in fiscal 2017, which begins Oct. 1.