Senators ask Vilsack to guarantee a 'fair & unbiased' competition workshop Friday

Senators ask Vilsack to guarantee a 'fair & unbiased' competition workshop Friday

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



Washington, Aug. 26 - With the fourth USDA/Justice Department workshop on ag competition issues being held in Ft. Collins, CO Friday, six GOP senators have written Agriculture Sec. Vilsack to raise “concerns about the objectivity of your Department's actions with regard to the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration's (GIPSA) proposed rule.” The GIPSA rule is likely to be a major focus of Friday's workshop. And it's definitely the focus of press conferences and rallies being held in Ft. Collins today.

The letter from Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Sam Brownback (R-KS), and Tom Coburn (R-OK) was triggered by a USDA employee's e-mail. The letter states that “A USDA employee in a Colorado field office used his official government e-mail account to pass along a message from an interest group soliciting attendance at the workshop.” The letter to Vilsack says the e-mail “raises serious concerns about the objectivity of your department.” Accordingly, the senators call for details about any other such communications and ask Vilsack for “a description of how the Administration will ensure the August 27, 2010 joint DOJ/USDA workshop will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner

Friday's USDA/DOJ workshop will consider beef, hog and other animal sectors with discussions on concentration in livestock markets, buyer power and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The three previous workshops focused on concentration issues affecting respectively program crops, poultry industry issues, and the dairy industry. To watch the videos or read the transcripts from the first three workshops, go to: www.justice.gov/atr/public/workshops/ag2010

To read the letter to Sec. Vilsack from six Republican Senators, go to: www.agri-pulse.com/uploaded/GIPSA_Bias_Letter.pdf

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