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The South Dakota Stockgrowers Association is a grassroots organization whose individual producer members determine issues of importance to the state's livestock industry. With input into the policy development, each member has the opportunity to influence SDSGA's policy and priorities. Individual members of the Association pull together to make powerful decisions - dedicated to promoting the livestock industry and enhancing the opportunity for profitability.

SD Stockgrowers News

South Dakota Stockgrowers Applaud Decision on Trucking Regulations, Urge Senators to Find a Long Term Solution

South Dakota Stockgrowers Applaud Decision on Trucking Regulations, Urge Senators to Find a Long Term Solution

 

SD Stockgrowers Association applauded the decision made Monday by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue a 90-day waiver of new trucking mandates for trucks hauling livestock.  The new regulations are set to go into effect on December 18 and require ELD’s to be installed in all commercial trucks.  The require truckers to take regular breaks, limits the length of their drives and allows law enforcement to access those driving records on demand.

“We’re thankful that the agency is going to pull back on this regulation and take another  look at it,” said SD Stockgrowers President Gary Deering.  “We appreciate that they’ve listened to public pressure and delayed its implementation.  We hope they can find a more permanent solution to regulations around trucking livestock.”

The South Dakota Stockgrowers also sent letters to Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds urging them to join with others in the U.S. Senate to delay the requirement for electronic log devices (ELD) to be used by livestock haulers beyond the 90-day waiver.

According to the letter sent Tuesday, Deering said, “We believe that the mandate should be lifted for a full year to take the pressure off our industry and give the agency time to find an appropriate, long-term solution for the livestock industry.”

“We are very concerned that without some adjustment, the new regulation will seriously impact the health, safety, and wellbeing of the livestock animals in our care.”

“These new regulations will result in situations where animals are offloaded and reloaded numerous times causing biosecurity concerns, are forced to stand in trailers without access to food and water, and have significant delays in delivery time.   While we appreciate the need to ensure safety of trucks on our nation’s highways, the nature of hauling live animals requires more flexibility and consideration than the current mandate allows.  When applied to livestock industry, the current regulations are impractical and inhumane.”

The Senate is considering legislation that would allow the ELD mandate to be implemented for all commercial trucks, but not require livestock trucks to use the technology until December of 2018.

Deering said, “The 90-day extension is a start, but a one year delay will give everyone time to find a workable solution to make sure our livestock trucks are safe on the highway without endangering the livestock that they’re hauling.”

A public comment period on the delay is open until November 30 and the public can submit comments by visiting www.regulations.gov and searching for “NPPC Electronic Logging Device”.

 

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South Dakota Stockgrowers is a grassroots, non-profit organization of independent livestock producers dedicated to the continued success and viability of the South Dakota livestock industry.

Editorial: GIPSA Withdrawal Disappoints

Editorial:  GIPSA Withdrawal Disappoints

 

Gary Deering is the President of the SD Stockgrowers Association.  He ranches with his wife Jessica and their three young sons on their family ranch near Hereford in western South Dakota.

Over my years of serving as a director of the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association one topic that has called attention to itself again and a again is regulations authored by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). I believe the recent decision made by Secretary Perdue by withdrawing the Farmers Fair Practice Rules from GIPSA, was an unfortunate one. It is my hope that the secretary did so out of a need for more clarity. I have considered the arguments on both sides of the GIPSA debate, and find it interesting and at times humorous, that on this issue both sides have screamed conspiracy theories to the other’s arguments. Through this fog of rhetoric I find myself searching for the truth of the matter.

It is a fact that The Packers and Stockyards Act went into effect in 1921. Even if Congress was more efficient, in 1921, than it is today, we can safely say that the issue of packers taking advantage of the producers has been an issue of discussion for well over 100 years. Like so many issues we face in agriculture, these issues of packer concentration and control are never resolved, only postponed.

In the 1920’s processing facilities were less centralized and the concentration of the big packer was not as great. Producers wrote about “the big five” in 1921 and from the early 1890’s controlled almost half of US domestic market. Fast forward to today and four packers slaughter over 85% of the beef in the US. Greater concentration in our cull cow markets exists, and it is safe to say that the potential threat for packers to exercise undue influence is greater today than ever before. Since 1921, real commodity prices have moved very little, and after taking inflation into account, producers’ profit margins are slimmer than ever. Across the board, agricultural producers are hurting, and the bleeding must stop.

Senators, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Jon Tester (D-MT), wrote in a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue that, “The lack of economic opportunities in rural America creates real challenges for growth and economic development, for the economy in rural America to prosper, people who live, work, and invest there must be able to survive and thrive so they can reinvest earnings into their communities. That is the most effective way to create additional jobs and lasting opportunities for the next generation.” In the letter the senators go on to write, “That is why Congress intentionally instructed the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate rules in the 2008 Farm Bill to ensure a better functioning marketplace for farmers and ranchers in the livestock and poultry industry.” Senator Grassley, has seen his share of consolidation, within the agricultural sector, over the past 40 years he’s been in Congress. Tester, likewise has also recognized what has happened, and is happening, to the cattle market due in part to the consolidation of the industry through vertical integration.

Both should be praised for their courage of standing up to big agribusiness, by not only working on GIPSA rules, but this letter they most recently wrote to Secretary Perdue. For the Stockgrowers across South Dakota, we can only hope to see the names of Senators Rounds and Thune on a similar letter as well.

Producers are in a unique position, we are all considered price takers when we enter the markets. Everything we do to improve the quality of our products may or may not be paid for when we market our products. While, I realize there are many factors which affect that price, consumer demand and supply, there is no other mechanism for producers to negotiate what they need to live on. The GIPSA rules aimed to give producers a tool to use in the event they had been treated unfairly.

I’m trying not to discount the argument that giving producers the ability for lawsuits, without proving harm to the entire industry, creates a potential opportunity for more lawsuits.   However, that does not negate the fact that producers need a tool to dispute injuries incurred. What is the answer when producers can’t find relief through one of the three branches our founders gave us? What is their next option to avoid going out of business? We need protection in place to not only insure fair markets today, but insure that we don’t witness what many South Dakota hog producers went through in the early 1990’s, and what the chicken producers went through before that. The South Dakota Stockgrowers worked very hard to get GIPSA rules implemented, and will work hard with this and future Administrations to get the rules that producers deserve.

I can acknowledge that it is very complicated having a conversation on the packing, and or retail, industry. They are, and have been for some time, a very concentrated industry. Whether we like it or not, some of our success depends on theirs.   However, it does not hurt to be skeptical, especially from what we have witnessed in the past. Even the strongest opponents of GIPSA, and those that believe that there is nothing at all wrong with our markets, must acknowledge the potential is certainly there now, and we are set up for possible corruption in the future.

I implore Secretary Perdue to consider ways to work with us to protect our family ranchers and farmers. The South Dakota Stockgrowers, stands ready to work with Congress, and the Administration to find solutions that will insure our future independence as producers, and financial viability.

 

Gary Deering, President

South Dakota Stockgrowers Assoc