USDA is eliminating the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration as a standalone agency and transferring the work to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Among its duties, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration was responsible for enforcement of antitrust law in the meatpacking business and protecting farmers and ranchers from predatory and retaliatory trade practices through enforcement of the Packers & Stockyards Act of 1921.
“At a time when just a handful of companies control all of the markets that supply and buy from family farmers and ranchers, the elimination GIPSA is a big step in the wrong direction,” said National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. “The agency’s statutory duty is to ensure fair and competitive markets for family farmers. This decision comes on top of USDA’s decision to withdraw the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, which would have given American family farmers the most basic of protections against abusive and undue practices levied against them by companies that hold substantial market power. Farmers Union strongly urges USDA to reconsider both of these decisions that undermine competition and place family farmers and ranchers at a significant disadvantage in the marketplace.”
The Organization for Competitive Markets called the move the “death knell for antitrust enforcement in the meatpacking industry.”
“We remain hopeful that our litigation against (Agriculture Secretary Sonny) Perdue for illegally withdrawing the Farmer Fair Practices Rules promulgated by the now defunct GIPSA will be ruled in our favor,” said Organization for Competitive Markets founding member and Mississippi cattle producer Fred Stokes. “Perdue’s actions today make that outcome even more imperative.”
Secretary Perdue announced his intention to eliminate the GIPSA agency in September 2017, shortly before withdrawing the long-awaited Farmer Fair Practices Rules promulgated by GIPSA to restore producer protections to the P&S Act. The move took effect with the issuance of a November 2017 memo and was formalized Nov. 29, 2018, in the Federal Register.
Source: NFU, Organization for Competitive Markets, Federal Register