With Texas a national leader in cattle production, Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples has announced he is heading an effort with 15 other state commissioners, secretaries and directors of agriculture to oppose federal proposals that could devastate the nation’s livestock and poultry industries, and in turn, put the domestic food supply at risk.

These states represent 41 percent of the cattle industry, 39 percent of the pork industry and 43 percent of the poultry industry in the United States.

 The proposed changes from USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) would restructure market rules put forth by the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. The rules that have been in place for decades currently provide regulatory safeguards that protect consumers and ensure a productive and successful livestock industry, which has lead to better products and the safest, most affordable and most reliable food supply in the world.

 “These proposed rules are job killers that will decrease domestic food production and increase prices for consumers,” Commissioner Staples said. “Such drastic change to a system that today enables American consumers to enjoy the most affordable food supply in the world will cause total market confusion and illustrates yet another example of government-knows-best heavy handedness. This type of arbitrary mandate will severely decrease the quality and market innovation of a powerful industry that feeds our nation. In Texas and in America, businesses succeed because they offer a quality product at a fair price through efficiencies, marketing and accountability.”

Immediate action requested

In a letter addressed to J. Dudley Butler, administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration, Commissioner Staples and 15 other commissioners of state agriculture departments are requesting immediate action in revising the proposed regulations.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to grow our livestock and poultry industries into powerhouses of productivity, and our consumers expect nothing less,” Commissioner Staples said. “I am honored to lead this effort and stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow commissioners, secretaries and directors of agriculture to support our farmers and ranchers in challenging this Washington, DC attempt to adversely overhaul our livestock and poultry markets.”

 If implemented, the proposed rules would be devastating for farmers, ranchers and consumers. A study done by the American Meat Institute, estimates more than 100,000 Americans would lose their jobs, the national GDP would decrease by $14 billion and meat prices for consumers would rise.

 "Delivering an affordable supply of high quality beef to kitchen tables around the world is our number one priority," said Texas Cattle Feeders Association CEO Ross Wilson. "This rule would increase the cost of beef to consumers while dramatically increasing costs to the beef production system and we stand with Commissioner Staples in strongly opposing it."

 These GIPSA proposals would not only undermine large sectors of states’ economies, but also would be drastically and unfairly counterproductive to a firmly established industry that has made great strides in food safety, quality control and cost-effective efficiencies. Furthermore, USDA has not presented sufficient evidence and economic analysis that the changes will better the industry for both producers and consumers.