USDA on Friday announced it is extending the comment period for the proposed rule entitled “Transparency in Poultry Grower Contracting and Tournaments” for an additional 15 days to August 23.

The comment period was originally scheduled to end on August 8.

Additionally, members of the Senate Chicken Caucus this week sent a letter requesting an extension to both the proposed rule comment period as well as an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) that USDA recently issued regarding the future of the tournament system’s use.

USDA did not amend the comment period deadline for the ANPR, which is still set for September 6.

“The proposed rule,” the letter said, “which would establish additional disclosure requirements for performance-based poultry grower compensation arrangements, and the ANPR, which seeks extensive comments and information to inform policy development and future rule making proposals regarding the use of poultry grower ranking systems, would both have wide-ranging effects on current industry operations. Therefore, they should be considered together.”

“Indeed, it is difficult to ascertain the full effects of the proposed rule without simultaneously having the chance to consider USDA’s other forthcoming rules,” the letter continued, referencing USDA’s publication of the 2022 Regulatory Agenda that includes references to future proposed rules entitled “Unfair Practices in Violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act” and “Clarification of Scope of the Packers and Stockyards Act.”

“We therefore urge you to let stakeholders comment on all proposed rules together and to take steps to mitigate any interruptions to the poultry supply chain,” the Senate letter concluded.

These two rules, while not yet formally proposed, closely mirror the titles of two previous rulemaking efforts from USDA under Sec. Tom Vilsack’s leadership, in 2010 and 2016. Those rules, defunded in the appropriations process for five straight years and ultimately scrapped in 2017, were vigorously opposed by industry as well as many growers.

The Senate letter, led by Senate Chicken Caucus co-chairs Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), was signed by Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Mark Warner (D-VA), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Boozman (R-AR), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), and Richard Burr (R-NC).

The full Senate letter can be found here.

The Congressional Chicken Caucus co-chairs Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA) and Steve Womack (R-AR) on July 20 also sent a letter requesting an extension of both comment periods and for USDA to allow stakeholders to comment on its full suite of rules regarding competition together.

The House letter can be found here.

Finally, the National Chicken Council on June 29 sent a letter to USDA requesting an extension of the comment periods, which can be found here.