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USDA extends comment period for proposed GIPSA rule

Legislative Watch: Inclusive competition, market integrity; possible railroad strike; agricultural trade promotion programs support; House election results.

P. Scott Shearer

November 25, 2022

3 Min Read
USDA extends comment period for proposed GIPSA rule

USDA announced it is extending the comment period on the proposed Packers & Stockyards rule, "Inclusive Competition and Market Integrity Under the Packers and Stockyards Act," for 45 days.

Earlier, a group of 100 Members of the House of Representatives sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack requesting the comment period on the proposed rule be extended 180 days.

The members said, the proposed rule "would have wide-ranging impacts on the contracting of poultry, cattle and hogs, and would establish broad recordkeeping obligations on each of these sectors."

The Congressional letter was organized by Representative Jim Costa (D-CA) and Steve Womack (R-AR). 

Also, a bipartisan group of 19 Senators sent a letter asking the comment period be extended 180 days. Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) organized the Senate letter.

The proposal is 180 pages and poses 44 substantive questions.

Increasingly possible rail strike
Two rail unions voted with one opposing and one agreeing to the proposed contract that was negotiated by the administration. The Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers voted against the proposed contract, and the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen voted in favor. These are the two largest unions of the 12 rail unions. 

Of the 12 rail unions, eight have voted in favor of the agreement and four have opposed.    

A national rail strike could begin as early as Dec. 9. A nationwide strike could cost the U.S. economy $2 billion per day according to the Association of American Railroads. 

Over 190 agricultural groups on Nov. 3 urged Congressional leaders to take necessary action to prevent a strike.

Double support for Agricultural Trade Promotion programs
A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the House of Representatives to double the funding for agricultural trade promotion programs. 

The legislation, "Supporting Market Access to Reinvigorate Trade (SMART) Act of 2022," would increase the funding for the Foreign Market Development Program from the current $34.5 million to $69 million and for the Market Access Program from $200 million to $400 million. 

Representative Jim Costa (D-CA) said in introducing the bill, "Opening and growing new markets for American-made products is critical to building our agricultural economy. Food is a global security issue, and we must do all we can to reverse disruptions in trade and grow new partnerships that help deliver American products around the world." 

Other cosponsors of the legislation are Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Tracey Mann (R-KS), Cindy Axne (D-IA), Ashley Hinson (R-IA) and Kim Schrier, (D-WA).

A recent study by IHS Market and Texas A&M University found that doubling funding for FMD and MAP would increase agricultural exports by an additional $44.4 billion over the 2024-2029 time period. 

The last time FMD received increased funding was 2002 and MAP was 2006.

Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate earlier.

Latest House election results – As of Wednesday, Republicans have won 220 House seats and the Democrats have won 212 seats. There are still three seats to be determined.

Source: P. Scott Shearer, who is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset. The opinions of this writer are not necessarily those of Farm Progress/Informa.

About the Author(s)

P. Scott Shearer

Vice President, Bockorny Group, Inc.

Scott Shearer is vice president of the Bockorny Group Inc., a leading bipartisan government affairs consulting firm in Washington, D.C. With more than 30 years experience in government and corporate relations in state and national arenas, he is recognized as a leader in agricultural trade issues, having served as co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for U.S.-China Trade and co-chairman of the Agricultural Coalition for Trade Promotion Authority. Scott was instrumental in the passage of China Permanent Normal Trade Relations and TPA. He is past chairman of the USDA-USTR Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products and was a member of the USAID Food Security Advisory Committee. Prior to joining the Bockorny Group, Scott served as director of national relations for Farmland Industries Inc., as well as USDA’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs (1993-96), serving as liaison for the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA to Congress.

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