The National Farmers Union (NFU) has issued a statement in recognition of the one-year anniversary of the proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule.

The statement, attributed to NFU President Roger Johnson:

“The Obama administration needs to act now to implement and enforce the GIPSA rule. Farmers and ranchers need a fair marketplace now more than ever. We have waited long enough.

“It has been one year since the GIPSA rule was proposed. Since then, more than 60,000 comments were submitted to the USDA regarding the rule. It has been more than three years since the 2008 farm bill was passed with a mandate to put forward protections for farmers and ranchers. It is long past time to implement these reforms to protect family farmers and ranchers.

“The GIPSA rule will prevent packers from engaging in unfair and deceptive practices to harm livestock producers. Under the rule, farmers and ranchers would no longer have to prove that the abusive business practices employed by a processor against a farmer or rancher caused competitive injury to the entire livestock marketplace. The proposed rule would now require the producer simply to prove that the abuses damaged his or her operation. Doing so would return the industry to the position USDA has supported through both Republican and Democratic administrations and would simply reverse the 2006 judicial rulings against family farmers and ranchers.

“Opponents of the rule have demanded at every turn that USDA delay the rule as much as possible. To slow the process further, (during the week June 13) the U.S. House of Representatives, at the behest of packer-producer organizations, defunded the implementation of the rule. The rulemaking process should not take this long. The GIPSA rule should be finalized and enforced before next year’s appropriations bill is signed into law.

“The economic impact on rural America stemming from the lack of competition in livestock markets and the resulting loss of farmers and ranchers is clear. Thirty years ago there were 1.3 million beef cattle operations. Today there are only 740,000. In 1980, there were 660,000 hog farms. Today there are only 67,000. Last year alone, 2,300 hog producers went out of business.

“It is time for USDA to act in implementing the GIPSA rule, to give America’s family farmers and ranchers an opportunity to compete in an open and fair marketplace.”