A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency lacked or exceeded its authority to promulgate a proposed rule on buying and selling hogs, says the National Pork Producers Council in comments filed Friday. USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) also failed to support the need for the regulation with evidence of problems in the pork industry and didn’t consider its own studies showing that restricting contracts could harm the industry, NPPC said.

The GIPSA rule was issued June 22, 2010 and a public comment period on it ended today, Nov. 22, 2010. The rule, prompted by the 2008 farm bill, would amend the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA), which regulates livestock and poultry contracts and marketing practices.

NPPC called the GIPSA regulation a “bureaucratic overreach,” and said that GIPSA lacked authority to, for example, declare that no showing of injury to competition is necessary to establish a violation of the PSA. NPPC pointed out that federal courts have uniformly rejected that view and that Congress rejected a similar provision during debate on the 2008 farm bill.

The rule was also offered with no meaningful analysis of its impact on the pork industry.

Last week, NPPC, along with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Meat Association and National Turkey Federation released an economic analysis of the GIPSA rule that found it would result in nearly 23,000 lost jobs and reduce gross domestic product by $1.56 billion. The cost to the pork industry would be $333 million annually after an initial $69 million expense.

“In all my years in the pork industry, I have never seen a regulation proposed that would do as much harm to America’s pork producers as the GIPSA rule would do,” remarks NPPC CEO Neil Dierks. “There’s no justification for imposing this rule on pork producers. It’s based on anecdotes, not analyses.

NPPC asked that GIPSA withdraw the portions of the proposed rule that will have an immediate and detrimental impact on the pork industry. It also requested a thorough analysis of the affect on pork producers of any new regulation.

“As proposed, the GIPSA rule is bad for farmers and ranchers, bad for consumers and bad for rural America,” declares NPPC President Sam Carney, a pork producer from Adair, IA. “We’d like the agency to rewrite the rule, stick to the mandates Congress gave it in the 2008 farm bill.”