Ag Policy Blog

Senators Want GIPA Policy Limits Removed

By Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor

Thirteen senators have written the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee asking that they eliminate policy riders on the funding bill for USDA over livestock and poultry marketing rules.

The House funding bill for USDA blocks the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration from finalizing livestock and poultry marketing rules stemming from the 2008 farm bill. As the senators wrote, "The legislative rider is attempting to thwart rules that, in part, allow farmers to request documents showing them how their pay is calculated, ensures that they are given adequate notice of a halt in animal deliveries, and ensure they can exercise their right to speak with their congressional representatives without fear of retaliation."

These provisions have been the subject of policy riders ever since GIPSA began trying to implement them. The 2014 farm bill did not change the provisions in the law. Yet, the policy riders continue to get slapped onto the appropriation bills for USDA, blocking GIPSA from implementing those rules.

The 13 senators asked their colleagues to eliminate the policy riders during any talks with the House on the conference report of the funding bill.

"This rider is anti-farmer; if passed into law it will reduce farmer rights, thwart the will of Congress, and prevent GIPSA from completing its task of writing common sense rules of the road for the contract livestock and poultry production history," the senators stated.

Senators on the letter included Charles Grassley and Tom Harkin of Iowa, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester and John Walsh of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, John Rockefeller and Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Rail Issues Draw Attention in Dakotas

The Surface Transportation Board will hold a public hearing Thursday in Fargo, N.D., to look at railroad service problems plaguing the northern plains. BNSF Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway are expected to explain what they have been doing to relive some of the backlog plaguing grain shippers in the region.

Shippers are encouraged to come share their stories. Details on Thursday's STB meeting in Fargo:…

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., also announced Tuesday that the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing about railroad problems. The committee will take up the issue on Wednesday, Sept. 10 in D.C.

“With the backlog in rail service and grain bins reaching capacity, South Dakota producers have limited storage options for both last year’s and this year’s expected record-breaking harvest,” said Thune. “I will continue working with Chairman Rockefeller and the Surface Transportation Board (STB) to seek commitments from the railroads to address the backlog of grain orders to minimize the harm that South Dakota producers face in getting their crops to market. I look forward to the committee’s upcoming hearing and hope it will better highlight for committee members and the general public the scale and scope of the challenges that shippers are facing across the country.”

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