J. Dudley Butler to Resign as Head of GIPSA

On January 19, 2012, the Associated Press reported that J. Dudley Butler, Administrator of the United States Department of Agriculture Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) will resign his position this week.  Under Mr. Butler’s leadership, GIPSA proposed extensive new rules in 2010 to reform livestock and poultry markets.  As reported in the newsletter of the Agriculture and Food Committee published earlier this month (“Limited GIPSA Rule Escapes from Washington Gridlock”), GIPSA’s proposed rules generated over 64,000 comments and by mid-2011 led to proposed legislation in Congress to deny funding for several of the proposed GIPSA rules.  In early December 2011, GIPSA issued a final rule that dropped all but its least controversial proposals.


One response to “J. Dudley Butler to Resign as Head of GIPSA

  1. Although these rules are portrayed as “controversial” (they were only controversial when someone tried to use them), they were the interpretation of the Packers and Stockyards Act in both the Bush and Obama administration via briefs by the USDA. The USDA was not shown agency deference by the federal courts. Butler’s proposed rules undermined the legal position of the meat packers in federal court but were the long standing position of the USDA.

    One has to wonder how many people were bought or “influenced” to get this decision in both our federal courts and the House of Representatives to overturn this long standing interpretation of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The legal decisions in some of these cases seemed to hinge not on good economic reasoning, but on meat packer liability under the law. The federal courts hung onto the meat packer’s lawyer’s excuse of requirement to show “competitive harm” but did not define competitive injury or harm or who the competitors were. Is it the meat packers or the suppliers to the meat packers who were competing against each other? Which one does the language of the law pertain to? Do all laws that are labeled by the federal courts as “anti trust” laws have to follow the legal requirements of proof the federal courts of the main anti-trust laws just because it is so named and labeled by a federal judge? Are federal judges able to throw such cases back to the legislature who are currently being lobbied and bribed by the very industry the law was meant to reign in? Are federal judges able to make ex post facto novel legal templates for litigants to protect the very abuse by the oligopolies the law was meant to reign in?

    There are so many questions.

    We already know that Bill Clinton pardoned Tyson’s top man after being convicted and sentenced to prison for influencing the then Secretary of Agriculture. The regulatory agency tasked with enforcing this law had little power and exercised even less of their power in the following decade. As president, Bill Clinton was able to place federal judges. High powered K Street firms were hired to change this long standing interpretation of the law to limit legal exposure by the meat packers. Common law creep was used to justify more and more unreasonable positions by the federal courts by the repeat offenders. Are our regulatory agencies subject to obvious agency capture the prelude to the same actions in our judicial system? One has to wonder if our government is being captured and manipulated by those corporations who have captured a huge sector of the economy due to government bias. This would lend support to the argument that we are not a nation ruled by laws but by men. Any reigning in of these corporations will meet huge and unrelenting pressure by these industries and the PR firms they hire, not to mention their lobbyists who are present at every committee hearing that even remotely involves them. Can our democracy survive this onslaught of economic power of the elites?

    Farewell, Dudley Butler. No one can say you didn’t try. One can fairly conclude that your departure raises more questions about whether the influence of money and power are out of control in our country.