Washington, D.C.—The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) expressed its concern that recently-proposed regulatory changes to the Packers and Stockyards Act would hurt producers and livestock marketing co-ops around the country. The proposed changes are expected to be a main point of discussion at the upcoming Department of Justice (DOJ)/U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) workshop on competition in the livestock sector in Fort Collins, Colo.
The proposed rule changes by USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) would dramatically alter how the Packers & Stockyards Act is implemented.
“If DOJ and USDA are truly interested in ensuring a competitive marketplace in agriculture, and in the livestock sector in particular, they must proceed cautiously instead of making radical changes that could do more harm than good,” said NCFC President & CEO Chuck Conner. “While meant to increase competition, these new regulations would perversely lead to fewer options for livestock producers to market their product and increased concentration in the sector.”
One concern that livestock marketing cooperatives have raised with NCFC, Conner continued, is the requirement that a dealer who operates as a “packer buyer” only purchase livestock for the packer that identifies the dealer as its “packer buyer”. Since a packer will likely not be able to send an exclusive buyer to smaller sales—such as those that many co-ops hold—the result could actually be fewer buyers in the market. Producers will have even fewer options with fewer buyers.
“As NCFC has shown over the course of these DOJ/USDA workshops, farmer cooperatives are an essential element in ensuring that farmers and ranchers remain competitive and receive a fair price for what they produce,” emphasized Conner. “If this proposal hurts livestock marketing co-ops, it will have a direct, negative impact on the bottom lines of the co-op’s farmer-owners. It is important for DOJ and USDA to use this workshop as an opportunity to hear a balanced debate that includes producers and other impacted businesses, including cooperatives.”
Since 1929, NCFC has been the voice of America’s farmer cooperatives. Our members are regional and national farmer cooperatives, which are in turn composed of nearly 3,000 local farmer cooperatives across the country. NCFC members also include 26 state and regional councils of cooperatives. Farmer cooperatives allow individual farmers the ability to own and lead organizations that are essential for continued competitiveness in both the domestic and international markets.
America’s farmer-owned cooperatives provide a comprehensive array of services for their members. These diverse organizations handle, process and market virtually every type of agricultural commodity. They also provide farmers with access to infrastructure necessary to manufacture, distribute and sell a variety of farm inputs. Additionally, they provide credit and related financial services, including export financing.