Producer and industry groups have requested an extension of the comment period regarding the proposed USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) livestock procurement rule. The groups indicated that the proposed rule would result in significant changes in how livestock are marketed and procured by meat packers. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), in its request for an additional 120 days for comment said, “The proposed rule goes well beyond the parameters set out in the (2008) farm bill, specifically with regard to sections on unfairness, purchasing practices, contracts, competitive injury and recordkeeping. Our initial reading of the proposed rule is that it is overly broad and very vague. We need more than 60 days to determine all of the ramifications this regulation could have on America’s 67,000 pork producers.” The American Meat Institute (AMI) indicated in its request for additional time, “The agency has taken almost two years to develop and publish this proposed rule, which would have a highly restrictive impact on how livestock is procured in the United States. Because of the breadth of the proposal and the impact it almost certainly would have on how packers and producers interact, the proposed rules warrant careful scrutiny, analysis and the submission of comprehensive comments.” Others who asked for an extension of the comment period included National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Meat Association and the National Turkey Federation.

Agriculture Appropriations for 2011 — The House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee has marked-up the fiscal year 2011 agriculture appropriations bill. The bill includes $23 billion in discretionary funds, which is $27 million below the administration’s request. Key areas highlighted by the subcommittee include:

• Animal Identification (ID) – Zero funding as the subcommittee believes that even after USDA has spent over $147 million on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS), they still have not seen a clear plan from USDA on successful implementation. USDA had requested $14.5 million

• Food Safety – USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) was funded at $1 billion. Also, a science-based panel will be established to analyze the food safety system at FSIS and develop recommendations on how to modernize it.

• Human Nutrition – Provides $68 billion for the food stamp program, $7.1 billion for the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) program and $19 billion for child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch program. The subcommittee noted that one in eight adults and one in five children now receive food stamps.

• Research – $1.36 billion is provided for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Also, $312 million is provided for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which is 19% greater than last year.

• The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) – APHIS is given $880 million to deal with plant and animal pests.
The bill will now be considered by the House Appropriations Committee.

“Opt Out” on Ethanol — Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) plans to introduce legislation that would allow states to opt out of federal law requiring that a certain level of ethanol be blended into gasoline.

Food Safety Hearing Progress — USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have announced public meetings to discuss the agencies' collaborative efforts to measure progress in reducing illness, harm and death from contaminated food. The purpose of the meetings is to hear stakeholder (consumer groups, industry, public health experts, state and local regulators) presentations on measuring progress on food safety. The two meetings are being held in Chicago, IL on July 21 and in Portland, OR, on Oct. 20.

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