Comment on poultry rules
What: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration proposed rule changes
Mail: Tess Butler, GIPSA, USDA, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Room 1643-S, Washington, D.C. 20250-3604
Deadline: Nov. 22, 2010
Online: View the proposed Rules
While there are no guarantees in life, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is looking to at least add more consistency to the poultry and livestock industries.
The USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration is proposing a series of new regulations to the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921, which regulates the industries.
According to USDA officials, the goal of the proposed amendments is to "level the playing field between packers, live poultry dealers, swine contractors and the nation's poultry growers and livestock producers."
For Peggy Kent, who has been a poultry grower for the last seven years, the proposed changes would be welcomed with open arms.
"I think the new regulations would be a great thing for growers," said Kent, a Dawsonville resident.
One of the proposed rules that Kent sees as a big boon for poultry growers is the one requiring production contracts to be "of sufficient length to allow poultry growers or swine production contract growers to recoup 80 percent of (required) investment costs related to capital investment."
According to the USDA, this change is important because "producers are often required to make capital investments as a condition to enter into or continue a production contract."
"We poultry growers put a lot of money into these (growing) houses. They can cost up to $300,000 each - that's a huge capital investment with very little security in our (current) contracts," said Kent, who owns six poultry houses.
"If we invest a large sum of money into doing the upgrades, but don't get a long-term contract to raise out enough product to recoup our investment then we could end up in serious debt. And we can't use the houses for anything else, poultry houses only have that one use - to grow poultry."
The USDA is also proposing that live poultry dealers be required to give growers at least 90 days' notice before suspending the delivery of birds. According to the federal entity, many growers' mortgage payments are tied to the number of flocks growers expect to raise each year. Thus, a delayed delivery can impact a growers' ability to make timely mortgage payments.
"Having a 90-day notice would give growers the opportunity to work with their financial institutions about their mortgage payments," Kent said.
Interested parties have until Nov. 22 to comment on the proposed rule changes.
"I would encourage all growers to read the (rules) for themselves and determine whether they think it is harmful or beneficial in their individual situation," said Mike Giles, president of the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation.
"The rule-making process provides for public comment and growers have the opportunity to let the USDA know what they think of the proposal."
Kent also encourages more farmers to get involved and voice their opinions about the proposed new rules.
"If something is not changed in the industry, I see a lot of farms going down - myself included," she said. "No farmers, no food."
According to the USDA, the proposed rule changes are necessary because existing regulations are "outdated or too broad to allow proper enforcement."