NCC on Wednesday sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack requesting an extension to the comment periods for the Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) rulemaking regarding the Packers and Stockyards Act.

Specifically, the letter is in reference to a Proposed Rule entitled, “Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments” and an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) entitled, “Poultry Growing Ranking Systems: Fairness and Related Concerns.” The ANPR is an information collection request for stakeholders regarding future rulemaking that would impact the use of performance-based poultry grower compensation arrangements. It is the first step in the federal rulemaking process.

Both the Proposed Rule and ANPR were officially published in the Federal Register on June 8, 2022.

“NCC appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Proposed Rule and ANPR and to consider the economic, legal, and operational impacts they would have on all stakeholders,” the letter said. “However, USDA has implied in the questions posed by the ANPR that future rulemaking could effectively eliminate the use of the tournament system. Additionally, USDA has announced in press releases and in the 2022 Spring Regulatory Agenda its intent to conduct rulemaking regarding the Proposed Rules entitled, ‘Unfair Practices in Violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act’ and ‘Clarification of Scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act,’ which are inexorably connected to the Proposed Rule and questions posed in the ANPR referenced above.

“This is not just one rule,” the letter concluded. “Rather, it is three rules and the possibility of more, all of which have been presented as intended to operate together to effect changes to the poultry supply chain. As such, NCC respectfully requests that USDA extend the comment period of the Proposed Rule and ANPR until at least 180 days after the official publication of the … [other two] Proposed Rules in the Federal Register. Doing so would allow NCC and its members to fully study the impact that the Department’s full competition agenda would have on industry efficiency and compliance costs, food availability and hunger, and inflationary pressures.”

The “Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments” Proposed Rule’s comment deadline is August 8, 2022, 60 days after the rule was published in the Federal Register. The “Poultry Grower Ranking Systems: Fairness and Related Concerns” ANPR’s comment deadline is September 6, 2022, 90 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The full letter can be found here.