NCBA’s Ethan Lane Sees USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Rule as an Attack on Producer Profitability

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Ethan Lane about USDA’s new Packers and Stockyards rule.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is talking with the Vice President of Governmental Affairs at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Ethan Lane about USDA’s proposed rule to clarify unfair practices in the livestock, meat, and poultry industries.

As NCBA reviews this new rule from USDA page by page, Lane said it appears that the rule seeks to define unfair practices under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

“When you read through the rule and the preamble, it is an incredibly vague rulemaking that essentially says anything that differentiates product for cattle producers based on price, on quality, on innovation is unfair and uncompetitive and could be open for challenge under this new rule,” Lane said. “Without question, this is an attack on producer profitability. This is intended to do away with the idea of producers being able to seek additional premiums on their cows and seek profit on their cattle based on changes they make to their production practices.”

Lane said the new rule aims to eliminate premiums and lock in uniform prices throughout the industry.

“We are still reading through the rule, but the way this is written, the broad approach that is taken here absolutely would bring, in our opinion, anything that looks like differentiating your product in the marketplace would be called into question under these rules,” Lane said.

Explaining this new idea of “fairness” emphasized by the Biden Administration, Lane said the new rule looks to see that everyone gets the same price for their cattle, regardless of effort to deliver the best product to the consumer.

“You have got a lot of folks out there in the populist end of the world, both Republicans and Democrats, who have really latched onto this idea of fairness,” Lane said. “They just hate the idea that somebody putting forth effort or investment in their operation might mean they, next door, make less on their cattle.”

Countless times Lane said the USDA has tried to pass rules similar to this one throughout the years, and they have lost in federal court each time.

“It is going to be a long road ahead of us to fight this rule on behalf of our members across the country who have made investments in their cattle and want to get premiums because of it,” Lane said. “Undercutting that in the quest for some kind of undeserved fairness in the marketplace is misguided. We are going to fight this every chance we can.”

Lane said the next step will be a 60-day comment period. Comments will close in August, then it will take a few months to incorporate those comments and responses into a final rule.

“The time is ticking away on this and any of the regulations pushed forward at this point in this administration depending on what happens in November,” Lane said.  

To read NCBA’s statement on the latest USDA Packers and Stockyards rule, click here.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR at the top of the story for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.

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