Today, 102 farmer, rancher, consumer, labor, farmworker, and faith organizations sent a letter urging the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations to remove a policy rider from its FY24 Agriculture Appropriations bill when it is considered during Wednesday’s markup. The rider would prevent USDA from writing, preparing, or publishing proposed rules to strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act, a landmark law intended to protect farmers and ranchers from abusive and anti-competitive behavior.
The proposed rules are particularly crucial now, the letter states, “because of the highly concentrated and vertically integrated nature of the livestock and poultry industries.” Such concentration gives “dominant meatpacking corporations considerable market power and [enables] their use of unfair contracting provisions and retaliatory practices that are abusive and harmful to family farmers.”
The letter provides examples of the harmful and anticompetitive behavior the rules would prevent: “Whether it be a contract poultry grower whose contract is abruptly terminated when they resist taking on overwhelming debt for corporate-mandated facility upgrades, a cattle producer who loses money year after year because the only packer in their market can manipulate the price of beef, or a livestock producer who experiences retaliation after they speak up against a corporation’s unfair practices, farmers and ranchers are being driven out of business and off their land across this nation.”
The groups conclude by calling on members of the Committee to “stand with American farmers and ranchers” by rejecting the rider, which they describe as “an unacceptable attack on the ability of the Department of Agriculture to do its job: protecting American farmers and ranchers and ensuring fair and competitive markets.”
Led by the Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment, Farm Action Fund, National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils, the letter lists 102 signing organizations.
Dee Laninga, Farm Action Fund, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-450-0094
Patty Lovera, CFFE, email@example.com, 202-744-0525
Ross Hettervig, National Farmers Union, firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Zaks, NSAC, email@example.com, 347-563-6408
Aaron Johnson, RAFI-USA, firstname.lastname@example.org, 984-214-2420
Michael Nelson, WORC, email@example.com, 202-547-7040
Steve Etka, Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, firstname.lastname@example.org, 703-519-7772