USDA Announces GIPSA Farmer Fair Practices Rules
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, known as GIPSA, Wednesday announced updated regulations that propose protections against retaliatory practices against livestock producers. The Farmer Fair Practices Rules are comprised of an interim final rule and two proposed rules. The interim final rule will establish that it is not necessary to demonstrate an unfair practice by livestock buyers harms the entire market, to prove a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The National Farmers Union called the rules “a step in the right direction,” while the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association said the rules would help restore order in the marketplace. However, the National Pork Producers Council says the rules are “an apparent attack” on rural America. NPPC says the rules could restrict the buying and selling of livestock, lead to consolidation of the livestock industry, and increase consumer prices for meat. While noting his track record of fighting GIPSA rules, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, said the rule would have a “devastating impact” on how farmers sell livestock. Roberts added he is “deeply disappointed” in the last-minute action by the current administration and USDA.
Foreign Trade Negotiator Says U.S. Will Restore TPP, Eventually
A former foreign trade negotiator says the United States will have no choice but to consider approving the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. Andrew Robb led Australia’s negotiations when the trade deal’s 12 member nations were crafting the agreement. He told the Australian Business Review publication this week that the United States “will have no choice” but to reconsider TPP, even if it takes three years. Robb says the U.S. would be the biggest beneficiary from TPP if it was resurrected. Some of the advantages Australia has achieved in bilateral deals, such as with Japan over beef imports, “are just going to get wider and wider apart from the U.S., to their disadvantage,” according to Robb. He says pressure from the U.S. cattle industry will build due to a 13 percent tariff differential in Australia’s favor in a billion-dollar market, being Japan.
USDA Rushing to Finish Organic Livestock Welfare Rule
The Department of Agriculture is “doing everything” it can to roll out the department’s organic livestock welfare rule before the Obama administration leaves office next month. The rule is currently under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget, but a USDA spokesperson told the Hagstrom Report this week that USDA will do everything possible to push the rule forward before January 20th. The comments follow lawmakers representing Oregon and Maine urging USDA to finalize the rule quickly. Representative Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, says the rule is “necessary to meet the expectations consumers have when they purchase organic products.” In a statement, DeFazio said he “supports USDA’s work” on the rule and urged the White House and USDA to finalize the rule quickly.
Canada Approves Funds for Ranchers Affected by Bovine TB
Ranchers in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada can now apply to access financial assistance to cope with an outbreak of bovine tuberculosis. The outbreak is forcing the slaughter of an estimated 10,000 cattle after five cattle tested positive for bovine TB. Canada’s agriculture minister announced this week Canada has approved $16.7 million to assist ranchers impacted by the outbreak. Meat industry publication Meatingplace reports an estimated 10,000 cattle are scheduled to be slaughtered across 40 ranching operations placed under quarantine. About 18,000 cattle across the region are currently under the federal quarantine while the investigation and testing of other cattle continues. The U.S. Department of Agriculture first notified Canada of the bovine TB outbreak when a cow from Alberta tested positive for bovine TB at a U.S. slaughterhouse.
Western Governors Vow Climate Change Fight with or Without Trump Administration
Three governors representing western U.S. states have vowed to move forward with efforts to fight climate change regardless of how the incoming Donald Trump administration treats the issue. The governors of California, Washington and Oregon made stark warnings that climate change was already harming the Pacific Ocean along which their states lie, according to Reuters. On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown said that despite whatever obstruction the incoming Trump Administration poses to efforts to combat climate change, California would do “everything possible” to prevent catastrophic global warming. The governors say the world’s oceans absorb 90 percent of greenhouse gasses, and supply much of the world’s food. The governors were meeting this week as part of the Western Governors Association meeting in San Diego, California.
Lower Beef Prices Good for Consumers
As consumers shop at the meat case this holiday season and into the new year, they will see lower retail prices on beef, including popular holiday cuts like the tenderloin and rib roast. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says November 2016 was the largest beef production month since 2010. As a result, industry experts at beef industry analyst firm CattleFax say beef prices are down more than 10 percent from the highs of late 2014. Beef production is currently on an upward trend, with production projected to rise six percent in 2016 and another four percent in 2017, according to CattleFax. NCBA President Tracy Brunner says: “It’s an ideal opportunity for consumers to take advantage of lower prices at the meat case.” In addition to favorite holiday cuts, consumers will also find good deals on lean beef cuts, such as top sirloin and strip steak.