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Ernst Questions USDA Secretary Vilsack on Harmful Impact of Ag Regulations on Iowans

Ernst Pushes for Public Comment on GIPSA Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  Today, at the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry hearing on “The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Current State of the Farm Economy,” Senator Ernst (R-IA) pressed Secretary Tom Vilsack on the harmful effects farmers, ranchers, land owners, and consumers face in Iowa from costly and burdensome federal regulations on the agriculture industry.

In particular Ernst stressed: “There has been a lot of discussion, not only in this committee, but as I’m traveling around the state back home about the depressed state of our farm economy, and what we can do to really help turn that around, and I’m always of the thought that less federal government involvement is better for our folks back home, not more. And what I’m hearing mostly from our Iowans, especially the farmers, the ranchers, and our land owners, is that it really feels like the federal government is out to get them, and I see that a lot with a number of the rules and regulations that are coming forward.”

Senator Ernst also highlighted concerns with the USDA’s proposed  Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) Rule that would inflict high costs on the livestock industry, and erect a barrier to young, beginning and small farmers’ ability to get into livestock production. Importantly, during Senator Ernst’s questioning, Secretary Vilsack agreed to providing a public comment period for stakeholders to express their updated concerns for the proposed GIPSA Rule if implemented by the administration:

Sen. Ernst: “…for the GIPSA Rule, will you be taking public comment, for that particular rule?”

Sec. Vilsack: “Senator, we’ll make sure that we follow the administrative process in terms of what we propose, since we haven’t completed the work, I don’t know what the final product is going to look like, but I can assure you that we’re not going to put out something that doesn’t allow people to review it, understand it, and to give us feedback on it.”

Sen. Ernst: “I appreciate that very much, I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ because we have seen a number of agencies in the federal government, EPA is a great example where they have proposed rules and regulations and they’re pushed out in the form of memos and other guidelines where they can circumvent public input, so…”

Sec. Vilsack: “That’s not going to be the case here.”

To watch Senator Ernst’s questioning, click here or the image below.