USDA published the final GIPSA rule regarding livestock and poultry marketing as required by the 2008 farm bill. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, "While concentration certainly comes with some efficiencies, Congress recognized in the 2008 Farm Bill that additional protections for producers are warranted. Today's rule will implement these targeted protections and help provide more fairness and transparency in the marketplace." The rule includes criteria the secretary may consider when determining:
• Whether a live poultry dealer has provided reasonable notice to poultry growers of any suspension of the delivery of birds:
• Whether a requirement of additional capital investments over the life of a poultry growing arrangement or swine production contract constitutes a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act;
• If a packer, swine contractor, or live poultry dealer has provided a reasonable period of time for a grower to remedy a breach of contract that could lead to termination of a production contract, and
• If contracts that require the use of arbitration to include language on the signature page that allows the producer or grower to decline arbitration and provides criteria the Secretary may consider when determining if the arbitration process provided in a contract provides a meaningful opportunity for growers and producers to participate fully in the arbitration process.
The department had planned on seeking additional comments on several other revised provisions from USDA's June 22-proposed rule, including changes to the tournament system of payment for poultry growers, requirements to collect and post sample contracts, and to address the issue of need for producers to show harm to competition prior to asserting a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The FY 2012 agriculture appropriations legislation prohibits USDA from moving forward on these items.
Agriculture Wants Japan Included in Trade Talks — Over 60 producer and agricultural organizations have written U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urging them to include Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations. The letter stated, "The addition of Japan to these negotiations would enhance the significance of the TPP and make the agreement much more encompassing. The inclusion of Japan would generate enormous interest and support among the undersigned organizations. It would also spur even broader interest among other Asia-Pacific countries, which could lead to the type of Asia-Pacific regional arrangement envisioned by the administration when you embarked on these talks last year." Japan is the fourth-largest agricultural export market for the United States with nearly $12 billion in agricultural products in 2010. It is the number one export market for the U.S. pork industry with exports of $1.65 billion in 2010. Those signing the letter included the American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, Animal Health Institute, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council and USA Rice Federation.
Renewable Fuels Standard Review Requested — A coalition of livestock and poultry associations are asking the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to hold a hearing regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard's (RFS) impact on the economy. In a letter to the committee, the groups said, "In light of the ongoing pressures that the RFS is placing on the domestic feedgrain supplies, something must be done to protect livestock and poultry producers from excessively high corn prices because of the rigid RFS compliance system. Therefore, we request that the Senate hold a hearing to examine the continued pressure on grain supplies and the impact that it is having on the bottom line of livestock and poultry producers." Those calling for the hearing included the American Meat Institute, Milk Producers Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Meat Association, National Pork Producers Council and National Turkey Federation.
Largest-Ever Government Biofuel Purchase — USDA and the Navy announced that the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) signed a contract to purchase 450,000 gallons of advanced drop-in biofuel. This is the single largest purchase of biofuel in government history. The Defense Department will purchase biofuel made from a blend of non-food waste (used cooking oil) from Dynamic Fuels, and algae, produced by Solazyme. The fuel will be used in the Navy’s demonstration of a Green Strike Group this summer during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise. This is the world's-largest international maritime exercise. The biofuel will be mixed with aviation gas or marine diesel fuel for the exercise.
P. Scott Shearer