Over one-third of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives (147 Congressmen) are calling on Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to withdraw the proposed Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule on livestock marketing and issue a new proposed rule once USDA completes its economic analysis. This would allow producers and industry to comment on the analysis and the changes being considered by USDA. The bipartisan letter organized by Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) and Reid Ribble (R-WI) says, “Withdrawing the June 22, 2010 proposed rule and reproposing a revised rule once the Department completes its economic analysis would allow stakeholders the opportunity they deserve to comment on what we hope will be substantial changes to the proposal more consistent with the intent of Congress outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill.” The letter also reminded the secretary that the administration’s proposal went far beyond congressional intent. “It is troubling that the department appears to be using the rule-making process to accomplish objectives specifically rejected by Congress, and we are confident any such rule will not be looked upon favorably by Congress.” The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) praised the congressmen who asked that the proposed rule be with drawn. NPPC said, “In writing the GIPSA rule, USDA went well beyond what Congress asked it to do. And the regulation it came up with will cost the U.S. pork industry nearly $400 million a year, limit farmers’ ability to sell animals, dictate the terms of private contracts, make it harder to get farm financing, raise consumer prices and reduce choices, stifle innovation and lead to more vertical integration in the pork industry.”

E. coli in Ground Beef Samples Declines – USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) 2010 year-end results of microbiological samples of ground beef products show that E. Coli 0157:H7 is found in less than one-quarter of one percent of ground beef samples, a 72% decline since 2000.

March Sets Record Meat Exports – The U.S. Meat Export Federation indicates that U.S. pork and beef exports achieved record value levels in March. The United States exported nearly 30% of its total pork production with a per-head equivalent value of $56.52, compared to 22.5% and $39.79/head in March 2010. U.S. beef exports were 15% of total beef production with a per-head value of fed slaughter reaching $205.40, compared to 10.6% and $127.39/head in March 2010.

U.S. Hits Debt Limit – The federal government hit the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling last week. The Treasury Department says it is taking steps to avoid a “breach” of the federal debt ceiling. The administration says the Congress has until Aug. 2 to raise the debt ceiling or the United States will default on its obligations.

P. Scott Shearer
Vice President
Bockorny Group
Washington, D.C.