USDA Withdraws Rule Requiring Proof of Labor-Law Compliance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has withdrawn a plan requiring companies doing business with the agency to certify that their subcontractors are meeting labor laws, after groups including the Chamber of Commerce complained.

The rule, proposed in December and set to go into effect Feb. 29, was pulled after the USDA reviewed the complaints, Matt Herrick, an agency spokesman said today in a telephone interview. The department is going through comments it received to consider how to proceed, he said.

The chamber, in a letter last week, said it objected to the USDA plan “in the strongest possible terms” as being unduly burdensome to business and unfairly benefiting labor unions. The American Meat Institute, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives and Kraft Foods Inc. (KFT), which called the rule “ill- advised and unworkable,” also objected.

The rule would have governed USDA procurements, including food for school meals and other nutrition programs and commodity purchases for international food aid.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alan Bjerga in Washington at abjerga@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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