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USDA/GIPSA RIN: 0580-AB07 Publication ID: Fall 2009 
Title: Enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act 
Abstract: GIPSA is proposing regulations under the Packers & Stockyards Act, 1921, that clarify when certain conduct in the livestock and poultry industries represents the making or giving of an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage or subjects a person or locality to an undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage. These proposed regulations also establish criteria GIPSA will consider in determining whether a live poultry dealer has provided reasonable notice to poultry growers of any suspension of the delivery of birds under a poultry growing arrangement; when a requirement of additional capital investments over the life of a poultry growing arrangement or swine production contract constitutes a violation of the P&S Act; and whether a live poultry dealer or swine contractor has provided a reasonable period of time for a poultry grower or a swine production contract grower to remedy a breach of contract that could lead to termination of the poultry growing arrangement or swine production contract. The Farm Bill also instructed the Secretary to promulgate regulations to ensure that producers and growers are afforded the opportunity to fully participate in the arbitration process if they so choose. 
Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 9 CFR 201 
Legal Authority: 7 USC 181 
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Statutory    06/18/2010 

Statement of Need: In enacting Title XI of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill) (P.L. 110-246), Congress recognized the nature of problems encountered in the livestock and poultry industries and amended the Packers and Stockyards Act (P&S Act). These amendments established new requirements for participants in the livestock and poultry industries and required the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) to establish criteria to consider when determining that certain other conduct is in violation of the P&S Act. The Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) attempts to enforce the broad prohibitions of the P&S Act have been frustrated, in part because it has not previously defined what conduct constitutes an unfair practice or the giving of an undue preference or advantage. The new regulations that GIPSA is proposing describe and clarify conduct that violates the P&S Act and allow for more effective and efficient enforcement by GIPSA. They will clarify conditions for industry compliance with the P&S Act and provide for a fairer market place. In accordance with the Farm Bill, GIPSA is proposing regulations under the P&S Act that would clarify when certain conduct in the livestock and poultry industries represents the making or giving of an undue or unreasonable preference or advantage or subjects a person or locality to an undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage. These proposed regulations also establish criteria that GIPSA will consider in determining whether a live poultry dealer has provided reasonable notice to poultry growers of a suspension of the delivery of birds under a poultry growing arrangement; when a requirement of additional capital investments over the life of a poultry growing arrangement or swine production contract constitutes a violation of the P&S Act; and whether a packer, swine contractor or live poultry dealer has provided a reasonable period of time for a grower or a swine producer to remedy a breach of contract that could lead to termination of the growing arrangement or production contract. The Farm Bill also instructed the Secretary to promulgate regulations to ensure that poultry growers, swine production contract growers and livestock producers are afforded the opportunity to fully participate in the arbitration process, if they so choose. We are proposing a required format for providing poultry growers, swine production contract growers and livestock producers the opportunity to decline the use of arbitration in contracts requiring arbitration. We are also proposing criteria that we will consider in finding that poultry growers, swine production contract growers and livestock producers have a meaningful opportunity to participate fully in the arbitration process if they voluntarily agree to do so. We will use these criteria to assess the overall fairness of the arbitration process. In addition to proposing regulations in accordance with the Farm Bill, GIPSA is proposing regulations that would prohibit certain conduct because it is unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive, in violation of the P&S Act. These additional proposed regulations are promulgated under the authority of § 407 of the P&S Act, and complement those required by the Farm Bill to help ensure fair trade and competition in the livestock and poultry industries. These regulations are intended to address the increased use of contracting in the marketing and production of livestock and poultry by entities under the jurisdiction of the P&S Act, and practices that result from the use of market power and alterations in private property rights, which violate the spirit and letter of the P&S Act. The effect increased contracting has had, and continues to have, on individual agricultural producers has significantly changed the industry and the rural economy as a whole, making these proposed regulations necessary.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Section 407 of the P&S Act (7 U.S.C. 228) provides that the Secretary “may make such rules, regulations, and orders as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.” Sections 11005 and 11006 of the Farm Bill became effective June 18, 2008, and instruct the Secretary to promulgate additional regulations as described in this notice of proposed rulemaking.

Alternatives: The Farm Bill explicitly directs the Secretary to promulgate certain regulations. GIPSA determined that additional regulations are necessary to provide notice to all regulated entities of types of practices and conduct that GIPSA considers “unfair” so that regulated entities are fully informed of actions or practices that are considered “unfair” and therefore, prohibited. Within both the mandatory and discretionary regulatory provisions we considered alternative options. For example, GIPSA considered shorter notice periods in situations when a live poultry dealer suspends delivery of birds to a poultry grower. These alternatives would not have provided adequate trust and integrity in the livestock and poultry markets. Other alternatives may have been more restrictive. We considered prohibiting the use of arbitration to resolve disputes; however, that option goes against a popular method of dispute resolution in other industries and is not in line with the spirit of the 2008 Farm Bill. GIPSA believes that this proposed rule represents the best option to level the playing field between packers, swine contractors, live poultry dealers, and the nation’s poultry growers, swine production contract growers, or livestock producers for the benefit of more efficient marketing and public good.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: Costs: Costs are aggregated into three major types: 1) administrative costs, which include items such as office work, postage, filing, and copying; 2) costs of analysis, such as a business conducting a profit-loss analysis; and 3) adjustment costs, such as costs related to changing business behavior to achieve compliance with the proposed regulation. Benefits: Benefits are also aggregated into three major groups: 1) increased pricing efficiency; 2) allocation efficiency; and 3) competitive efficiency.

Risks: None.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  12/00/2009   
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
H. Tess Butler
Regulatory Liaison
Department of Agriculture
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration
STOP 3604, 1400 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20250
Phone:202 720-7486
Fax:202 690-2173
Email: h.tess.butler@usda.gov

 
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