With Texas being a national leader in cattle production, I recently coordinated an effort with 15 other state commissioners, secretaries and directors of agriculture to oppose federal proposals that could devastate the nation's livestock and poultry industries, and in turn, put our consumers at risk of becoming reliant on a food supply produced outside our borders. In total, states representing 41 percent of the cattle industry, 39 percent of the pork industry and 43 percent of the poultry industry in the United States joined together with one message for Washington: NO.
The proposed changes from USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) would restructure market rules put forth by the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. Those rules have been in place for decades and continue to provide regulatory safeguards that protect consumers and ensure a productive and successful livestock industry. As a result, our agriculture industry is able to provide better products and the safest, most affordable and most reliable food supply in the world.
USDA's proposal would have many consequences, ranging from numerous legal fees brought about by tying business transactions up in court to enormous and unnecessary administrative burdens. Worse, the proposal would likely remove the incentive for Texas livestock ranchers to capture a premium in the market by offering a higher quality product. When you reward mediocrity, you get mediocrity.
According to an American Meat Institute study, more than 100,000 workers could lose their jobs if the GIPSA rule becomes law. It also is estimated that our Gross Domestic Product would decrease by nearly $14 billion. This will have a serious impact on our domestic food supply and should concern all Texans and Americans alike. I've always said, we do not like being dependent on foreign oil; we cannot become dependent on foreign food.