By Richard Lobb on 1/19/2012
from www.meatingplace.com — reprinted by permission
J. Dudley Butler has resigned as administrator of USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration, effective next week, USDA confirmed today. His resignation brings to an end a controversial tenure marked by an attempt to toughen regulations on livestock and poultry marketing.
“I want to thank J. Dudley Butler for his outstanding service as Administrator,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “President Obama and I believe fair and competitive markets are critical to the success of American agriculture, and Dudley has worked tirelessly to advance this cause. USDA looks forward to continuing this work on behalf of our nation’s producers.”
“I have enjoyed the past three years at USDA working with Secretary Vilsack to strengthen American agriculture and build fair markets for livestock and poultry producers,” Butler said in a statement released by USDA. “I leave knowing our commitment to these hardworking men, women and families will continue.”
Alan Christian, GIPSA’s deputy administrator for the Packers and Stockyards Program, will serve as acting administrator of GIPSA until an administrator is appointed, a USDA spokesperson said.
Before joining USDA in 2009, Butler was an attorney in private practice, based in Mississippi. He brought litigation on behalf of contract poultry growers against some integrated poultry companies.
As head of GIPSA, Butler was in charge of drafting rules on livestock and poultry marketing in response to a requirement in the Farm Bill passed in 2008. When the proposed rules were unveiled in June 2010, meat and poultry processors and major livestock interests immediately cried foul, saying the proposals went far beyond the intent of Congress. The proposed rules would have created a raft of new criteria by which the Secretary of Agriculture could judge whether companies engaged in unfair treatment of cattle or hog producers and poultry farmers.
After an intensive lobbying battle, a watered-down version of the rules was published in December, lacking nearly all of the provisions the industries found objectionable.
Editor’s note: For an in-depth analysis of how the final GIPSA rule developed, read “Angry birds” in the February issue of Meatingplace in Print.