House Ag Republicans question USDA ‘executive overreach’
Weeks before the midterm congressional elections, all Republican members of the House Agriculture Committee on Friday sent Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack a letter questioning what they call “the Biden administration’s overreaching executive actions.”
The letter signers pointed out that “a recent Supreme Court decision, West Virginia v. EPA, clarified the limitations of certain agency action.”
They continued, “Nevertheless, we remain concerned that a variety of USDA’s recent and pending actions rely on specious statutory interpretation to achieve political goals well beyond congressional intent.”
“From repeated abuses of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act to controversial livestock and poultry marketing reforms, the potential effects of these actions are far reaching and of enormous economic significance to our nation’s farmers, ranchers, foresters and consumers. While the 2008 farm bill required the promulgation of certain regulations with respect to the Packers and Stockyard Act, the rules that came out of USDA went well beyond the plain meaning of the statute as well as congressional intent and stood in conflict with established circuit court precedent
“Indeed, Congress acted on several occasions to prohibit certain parts of the regulations from going into effect. We are concerned the newly proposed and pending Packers and Stockyards regulations will prove similarly flawed.
“We are also troubled by a recent anti-trust enforcement action against major poultry processing companies that seems to have run parallel to USDA’s rulemaking. After a nearly year-long merger review by the Department of Justice, Cargill announced the completion of the acquisition and merger of Sanderson Farms with Wayne Farms on July 22, 2022, only to have the DOJ file a lawsuit and proposed consent decree three days later.”
The House members asked Vilsack to send them a series of documents and “a detailed legal analysis of Section 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and how the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities program falls into one of the specific powers.”
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