Blog for Rural America

The Center for Rural Affairs, a private, non-profit organization, is working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities. Permission to reprint items from this web log is hereby granted, on the condition that clear credit is given to the original source of the material. If the blog provides information for a story, please let us know by sending an email to johnc@cfra.org.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Sec Johanns Talks the Talk But Won't Walk the Walk

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns - No Profile in Courage Here

Johanns Letter to Senator Chambliss on GIPSA and Competition Bill

USDA Secretary Johanns wrote to the Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman this week with the Department’s views on the SAC-supported Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Act (S. 2307) introduced by Senators Harkin, Enzi, Thomas, and Grassley. Sadly but not surprisingly, the Department opposes most of the bill’s proposed measures to put more teeth into enforcement of competition and fair contract laws. One bright spot though – the letter reiterates support for bringing all poultry growing arrangements under the jurisdiction of the Packers and Stockyards Act.

In related news, the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration last week forwarded to the Committee a “progress” report on its actions to respond to the scathing USDA Office of Inspector General’s report on GIPSA non-enforcement and malfeasance. If anything, the report shows less courage and less concern about family farmers, ranchers and their markets than USDA's "analysis" of Senator Harkin's competition bill.

Johanns Exchanges with Grassley and Dorgan on Payment Limit Rules

Late last year, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote to Secretary Johanns with a suggestion – rather than just asking Congress to enact commodity program payment limit reform and rather than just talking about farm bill reform, why not take the bull by the horns and close some of the loopholes that were created by USDA rule makers to begin with? Senator Dorgan (D-ND) made similar suggestions by way of questions submitted to the Secretary during appropriations hearings earlier this year.

Well, this week the answers have come back. Again, sadly but not unexpectedly, USDA says there are no problems with their rules and there will be no changes forthcoming. Despite USDA Payment Limitation Commission and US Government Accountability Office recommendations to the contrary, the Secretary is sticking to the story that “actively engaged in farming” loopholes a mile wide are “appropriate” and consistent with congressional intent.

Bottomline – they can talk the talk, but won’t walk the walk.

post a question or comment here or contact John Crabtree, johnc@cfra.org

Center for Rural Affairs
Values. Worth. Action.

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