Ag agency’s proposed rules may hurt more than help, Tipton says

Proposed rule changes by the U.S. Department of Agriculture aimed at increasing transparency in the food-supply network would increase paperwork and harm businesses, industry officials said.

Two congressmen, including U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., wrote Monday to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asking for a more thorough review of the proposed regulations.

The department’s proposed rules “would create onerous demands on small, medium and large producers and individuals when they purchase calves,” Robbie LeValley, a Hotchkiss rancher and president of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, said.

The proposed regulations would make transactions more open, but they’re not aimed at protecting individuals.

“That’s a business-to-business transaction that should not be made public on the Internet,” LeValley said.

The proposed rule would “clarify conditions for industry compliance” with the Packers and Stockyard Act of 1921 to provide for a fairer marketplace,” the Agriculture Department said.

The provision would severely undermine the capability of small businesses to differentiate their products from larger competitors, critics said.

The proposed changes to the Grain Inspection, Packer and Stockyards Administration also would hamstring industry because of vagueness and pose the threat of increased litigation, said LeValley, whose family has ranched in the Hotchkiss area for nearly a century.

All segments of the agriculture industry would deal with increased paperwork, but the proposed regulations would hit hardest on small operations, Tipton and Sam Graves, chairman of the House Committee on Small Business, said in the letter to Vilsack.

Tipton, who heads the subcommittee on agriculture, energy and trade, called the proposed regulations “ill-conceived” and likely to inhibit economic recovery.

“Rather than taking steps to help create jobs, this administration continues to implement policies that bury America’s job creators with regulations,” Tipton wrote.

A schedule of hearings is to be announced in July, LeValley said.


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