WASHINGTON — Many meat and poultry processors are up in arms about new rules proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, which would regulate relationships between meat and poultry processors and the farmers who raise animals under contract from these companies.
One of GIPSA's key functions is to promote fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture. The agency has argued that its goal is “to level the playing field between packers, live poultry dealers and swine contractors, and the nation's poultry growers and livestock producers.” The new rule clarifies GIPSA's definition of “competitive harm” and unfair practices, establishes new criteria that can be used by the agency to determine unreasonable preference or advantages between contractors and producers, prohibits live poultry dealers from paying contracted growers an amount below an average base rate, and would require packers, swine contractors and live poultry dealers to provide GIPSA with sample copies of their contracts after entering into new agreements with growers, among other regulations.
Meat industry groups, including the American Meat Institute and the National Chicken Council, have said that the proposed rules are both too sweeping and too vague. The NCC has also argued that the proposed base rate requirements would reduce incentives for higher-performing growers.