A group of U.S. Senators is questioning the behavior of USDA leading up to Friday's USDA-DOJ competition workshop. Even though USDA has said the workshops would be organized and conducted as open and balanced forums the Senators have sent a letter questioning if that is being done. They are also questioning the objectivity of USDA with regard to the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration's proposed rule.
At the center of this storm is the fact a USDA employee in a Colorado field office used his official government email account to pass along a message from an interest group soliciting attendance at the workshop. The letter, signed by Senators Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., Mike Johanns, R-Neb., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., asks where that e-mail was sent and requests copies of all documents that resulted from the original e-mail.
The Senators also are asking USDA if comments from all workshops such as Friday's workshop in Ft. Collins, Colo. will be incorporated in USDA's evaluation of GIPSA's proposed rule. GIPSA has repeatedly cited comments from the May 21, 2010, poultry workshop in the "Examples of Market Behavior" document released in conjunction with the proposed rule.