House Agriculture subcommittee members expressed deep concern over the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) proposed rule on livestock and poultry contracts and marketing agreements, a regulation that would limit pork producers’ options in selling their pigs to processors, according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

In a hearing Tuesday, Reps. David Scott (D-GA) and Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Agriculture Committee’s Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Subcommittee, said they are troubled that the proposed rule amending the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) goes beyond the intent of Congress in the 2008 farm bill. The legislation authorized USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) to issue rules clarifying certain parts of the PSA and implementing new ones for capital investments, arbitration and poultry contracts.

Concerns were also raised with the broad scope of the rule and its likely adverse effects on the livestock and poultry industries. Some lawmakers who helped craft the 2008 farm bill indicated Congress chose not to act on some proposals now included in the GIPSA rule because they felt it would disrupt and destroy the U.S. livestock industry.

“Several of the rule’s provisions go further than what was required by the farm bill,” observes NPPC President Sam Carney. “NPPC believes the proposed rule is overly broad and very vague, with many terms not well defined. As written, it appears the rule would have a negative effect on the ability of pork producers to enter into arrangements to produce hogs under contracts and to sell hogs through marketing arrangements.”

Agriculture Committee panel members also raised concerns that GIPSA so far has refused to extend its 60-day comment period beyond the Aug. 23 deadline for the “most significant regulation on livestock markets in nearly 100 years.”

In a July 6 letter to GIPSA Administrator J. Dudley Butler, NPPC requested a 120-day extension of the comment period. NPPC commented that the scope of the proposed rule and the lack of an adequate economic analysis of its impact on the livestock industry warrant an extension.

Last week, 22 members of the House Agriculture Committee signed a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting an extension of the comment period for 120 days past an Aug. 27 workshop on competition in the livestock industry in Ft. Collins, CO.