NFU urges Appropriations Committee to follow Subcommittee’s lead and exclude GIPSA rider

Farm Forum

WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson urged the Appropriations Committee to follow the Subcommittee’s lead and exclude a rider prohibiting the implementation of livestock and poultry industry regulations by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA).

“NFU has worked on basic protections for contract growers through the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) provisions for many years,” notes Johnson in a letter sent to House Committee on Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and Ranking Member Nita Lowery. “These protections, such as notice of termination of contract and recourse from retaliation, are essential to ensuring farmers have fair conditions in an increasingly consolidated marketplace.”

Johnson points out that while these basic protections were included once again in the 2014 Agricultural Act, implementing regulations have yet to be promulgated due to appropriations riders. “I am pleased the subcommittee did not include the GIPSA rider in this year’s bill, which would have forbidden the United States Department of Agriculture from drafting rules on these basic protections,” the letter notes.

The letter also points out NFU’s concern over steps taken by the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee on the Fiscal Year 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Act that would undermine the compromises reached during the 2014 Farm Bill, including payment limitation provisions. The letter additionally underscores concern with budget cuts to mandatory programming as it relates to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). “Conservation programs are an important instrument for farmers wishing to improve the environment in which they operate… REAP and BCAP are equally important to producers and rural economies.”

The letter also takes issue with flat funding provided for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) due to its central role in markets that hedge against risk and allow for price discovery . “The integrity of these markets is central to commodity producers. Since 2008, when CFTC’s authority expanded by roughly $400 trillion when over-the-counter swaps became a part of its jurisdiction, CFTC’s resources have been inadequate,” the letter notes.

NFU raised concerns that the bill, would also prohibit penalties from being issued in the 2016 reinsurance year for those who are deemed non-compliant with conservation requirements mandated under the 2014 Farm Bill. “NFU recognizes that there are problems resulting from a lack of coordination between the Risk Management Agency and the Farm Service Agency, but those problems are administrative, not legislative in nature,” says the letter. “Given your committee’s interest in this subject we would urge you to use your offices, not this bill, in calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to fulfill its statutory requirements under the 2014 Farm Bill.”