USDA Announces Farmer Fair Practices Rules
December 16, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration this week announced updated regulations to protect the rights of farmers. The Farmer Fair Practices Rules target the most harmful practices hurting farmers and clearly outlines common sense protections to restore fairness and reduce the burden for farmers seeking justice under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says American farmers want protection against unfair and deceptive practices. When it comes to market risks and concentration in the processor market, he points out the poultry industry saying four processors control 51 percent of the broiler or chicken market.

The new rules would level the playing field for farmers by proposing protections against the most egregious retaliatory practices. The Farmer Fair Practices Rules are comprised of an interim final rule and two proposed rules GIPSA this week sent to be published in the Federal Register. The interim final rule will affirmatively establish the department's long time position that it is not necessary to demonstrate that an unfair practice harms the entire market in order to prove a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. Such overly broad interpretations have put family farmers at a disadvantage for decades when pursuing their rights under the act.

The proposed rule regarding unfair practices would clarify what GIPSA views as practices that clearly violate the act and would establish criteria to protect the legal rights of farmers. The Farmer Fair Practices Rules reflect feedback received in more than 60,000 comments and rigorous economic analysis conducted by GIPSA in collaboration with the USDA Office of the Chief Economist. GIPSA is providing opportunity for additional comment on all of the rules, to ensure that the public has a robust opportunity to engage in the regulatory process. The rule was mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill and the interim rule announced will go into effect in 60 days.

Copies of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules (as transmitted to the Federal Register) can be viewed on the GIPSA website at www.gipsa.usda.gov/psp/farmerfairpractices.aspx. This link will be updated once the rules officially publish in the Federal Register.