Colorado State University animal welfare expert Temple Grandin says the proposed livestock marketing rule from USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration is a case of a regulation that looks good on paper but will have bad consequences.

“I always worry about rules that come out of Washington, because the bureaucrats who write them often have no practical experience in the real world, and that sure comes through in this lastest missive,” she writes in The Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com).

She says the GIPSA rule goes well beyond what Congress intended when it told USDA officials to write some rules about what constitutes an “undue preference” in livestock marketing and procurement.

As proposed, the department would prohibit meat packers from buying, acquiring or receiving swine or cattle from another packer or packer-affiliated company.

“That means that an integrated beef-processing company that owns feedlots or production facilities would, for example, be required to ship cattle to either its own plant or sell the livestock to an independent dealer, perhaps hundreds of miles away, rather than selling the cattle or pigs to another company’s packing plant very close to the ranch or farm,” Grandin says.

“Adding shipping time is stressful to livestock and stands to increase injury and potential death losses, particularly among pigs, because they are more subject to transport stress,” she adds. All this results in unnecessary animal welfare risks with dealers because they would likely not have the animal handling programs and standards in place that are common among production and processing facilities.

“As a scientist who has dedicated her life to improving animal welfare, I am extremely alarmed that the department ultimately responsible for enforcing the Humane Slaughter Act apparently has paid so little attention to the animal welfare implications of this proposal.”

Grandin advises Agriculture Secretary Vilsack “to reconsider this rule in order to maintain good animal welfare and to foster development of important niche markets that create many marketing opportunities for producers. This will help animal welfare, rural development and family farms.”

The National Pork Producers Council (http://nppc.org./ContactForm/default.aspx) urges pork producers to visit their Web site to submit comments on the GIPSA proposal.