September 9, 2013
Today, NSAC joined over 140 farm, consumer, faith, and rural organizations in a letter urging House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders to reject a provision in the House-passed farm bill that severely restricts the USDA’s ability to address anti-competitive and unfair business practices in the livestock and poultry sectors.
A version of this letter was sent in early August, and the number of groups supporting its message – including 35 NSAC members – has more than doubled since that time.
The 2008 Farm Bill contained important provisions directing the USDA to write regulations and use its authority under the Packers and Stockyards Act to address certain anti-competitive practices. While USDA has been working to meet these directives, the House farm bill would repeal the landmark 2008 Farm Bill provisions and would further limit USDA’s ability to ensure fair markets and contracts for farmers and ranchers of all sizes.
The Senate version does not contain such a provision, and NSAC continues to advocate for the elimination of the House provision in a House-Senate conference on a five-year farm bill.
As the letter notes, the lobbying campaign against the 2008 Farm Bill provisions is being pressed by livestock and poultry companies who want to continue current practices such as “forcing poultry growers to make expensive upgrades to their chicken houses, at the same time as the companies controlling their contracts are secretly planning to shut down plants and cancel their contracts, leaving the farmers with massive stranded investments and facing bankruptcy, and leaving the taxpayers to pick up the tab.”
In fact, the House-passed provision goes even further, shutting down any activity by USDA to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act in a manner to promote fair competition or fair contracts or even to stop retaliatory actions and anti-competitive sweet heart deals.
In addition to NSAC, among those signing the letter were the National Farmers Union, National Family Farm Coalition, National Women Involved in Farm Economics, R-CALF USA, National Farmers Organization, National Grange, Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, Western Organization of Resource Councils, American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO) Local 3354 -USDA-St.Louis, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.