Action | June 22, 2011

Make a call for fairness for family farmers and ranchers

AliciaTHREE YEARS AGO, Candidate Barack Obama promised to stand up for open and fair markets for family farm livestock producers.

TWO YEARS AGO, Congress passed a farm bill directing USDA to write rules to end price discrimination against small and mid-sized farmers by corporate meatpackers and processors and to ensure fair production contracts for poultry and hog producers.

ONE YEAR AGO, USDA issued a proposed rule that would reign in some of the worst abuses of giant meat packers and poultry companies.

ONE WEEK AGO, at the bidding of corporate meatpackers, the House of Representatives passed a measure to halt the rulemaking process.

Tell the President that we have waited long enough.

Tell him to stand firm against corporate greed and bullying.

Call the White House comment line between
Monday, June 20th and Friday, June 24th.

Keep trying until you reach an operator, and share the following message:

“I am a (farmer, grower, consumer) from ________ (city and state) calling in support of USDA’s proposed livestock and poultry rule, also called the “GIPSA” rule. Fair, open and transparent markets are essential to rural economic recovery. We need strong rules to curb corporate control over livestock and poultry markets and to foster a livestock industry in which small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers can thrive. Please issue a final GIPSA rule without delay.”

Learn More:

Packers and integrators use their market power to manipulate prices paid to livestock producers and contract terms to poultry producers and increasingly to livestock producers.

The Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 makes it unlawful for meat and poultry packers and processors and companies that contract with farmers to raise hogs and poultry from engaging in any “unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive practice or device,” or to “make or give any undue or unreasonable preference or advantage to any particular person or locality in any respect, or subject any particular person or locality to any undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage in any respect.”

But until now, USDA has never issued the regulations necessary to define these broad prohibitions in order to adequately enforce the protections for livestock and poultry farmers. That changed because in the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress voted to include directives to USDA to issue the regulations to define these prohibitions. In addition, Congress told USDA to clarify how the Act should be applied to give individual farmers and ranchers a fair shake when dealing with the large corporate entities that control our nation’s meat and poultry processing. The proposed rule does exactly what the Farm Bill directed USDA to do.

In addition, for both livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers, the proposed rule would clarify that when a farmer or rancher shows individual harm because of unfair or deceptive practices by livestock and poultry processors, the farmer and rancher does not also need to a show harm to competition throughout the livestock or poultry market. USDA has the authority under the Packer & Stockyards Act to clarify for the courts that farmers and ranchers do not need to show this “competitive injury” to the market as a whole, in order have the legal protections for fair play provided under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

GIPSA stands for the Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration.

For more information on the how the GIPSA rules help poultry producers, go to the Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (RAFI) website.

For more information on how the GIPSA rules help independent livestock producers, go to the Center for Rural Affairs website.

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