Upwards of 20,000 cribs are destined for the garbage dump later this month unless a federal consumer safety agency moves the deadline for selling the merchandise at a meeting today.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission gave retailers six months to sell their inventory of cribs after new rules took effect in December, but the economic downturn has made moving the merchandise more difficult than expected. The result is a June 28 deadline that could result in thousands of unused cribs being destroyed and sent to landfills.

The inventory of cribs is not considered unsafe, a hazard to children or subject to recall. They simply don’t meet the CPSC’s latest safety test. Congress mandated the agency implement the regulation, but let CPSC commissioners come up with the date retailers must comply.

Any cribs not meeting the current standard must be destroyed if they’re not sold by June 28. Industry estimates put the number between 10,000 and 20,000 cribs. Some retailers, panicking to sell the cribs before the deadline, have offered steep discounts to consumers. Manufacturers, meanwhile, may still have stock in warehouses that must go or be junked.

“Overregulation is going to lead to the destroying of thousands of cribs that are perfectly good — many that are better than what will come out after the new regulations,” Gene Francis, a South Dakota-based retailer and member of the National Independent Nursery Furniture Retailers Association, told Kids Today.

The result is today’s CPSC meeting, open to the public and webcast beginning at 9 a.m. Commissioners will hear about the impact of the regulation — and decide if the June 28 deadline should be pushed back to give retailers more time to sell the cribs.

The crib rules are a major focus of the CPSC’s work. A lengthy and detailed question-and-answer page exists on the agency’s website. The new safety regulations essentially prohibit drop-side cribs and make retrofitting unused models very difficult.

A related regulation applies to daycare providers, requiring that all cribs — regardless of age or condition — be replaced by Dec. 28, 2012.