Farmer Group Challenges Trump Rollback of GIPSA Rules

On December 14, 2017, a farmer group filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Trump administration's rollback of two controversial GIPSA rules. A copy of the lawsuit is available here.

The suit was filed by two poultry farmers, a beef cattle farmer, and the Organization for Competitive Markets in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, which encompasses Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa, the Dakotas, and Minnesota. The lawsuit charges the USDA and Sonny Perdue with "arbitrary and capricious" behavior in withdrawing two GIPSA rules known as the Farmer Fair Practices Rules.

The rules were designed to (1) make it easier for individual farmers to sue meat companies for anticompetitive behavior; and (2) further define which actions are considered deceptive, discriminatory, or unfair. Critics of the rules argued they would unleash the floodgates of frivolous litigation. Supporters claimed the rules finally helped to level the playing field between individual farmers and large meat-packing companies. 

The OCM lawsuit seeks judicial review of the USDA orders withdrawing the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. The plaintiffs contend the October 2017 rollback is arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to the Packers and Stockyards Act. They allege the USDA has unlawfully withheld agency action under the 2008 Farm Bill in violation of federal law.

I've written before on the controversial GIPSA Farmer Fair Practices Rules, when they were released at midnight on December 16, 2016, and again more recently as one of the big stories of 2017. Now it seems there is another chapter in the GIPSA saga. The lawsuit is not surprising, given the number of farmers in favor of the new rules and against Trump's rollback. 2018 will surely bring more GIPSA excitement!