FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Laura Zaks, NSAC, email@example.com, 347-563-6408
Patty Lovera, CFFE, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-744-0525
Dee Laninga, Farm Action, email@example.com, 202-450-0094
Ross Hettervig, National Farmers Union, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Johnson, RAFI-USA, email@example.com, 984-214-2420
Michael Nelson, WORC, firstname.lastname@example.org 202-547-7040
Steve Etka, Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, email@example.com, 703-519-7772
Release: 102 Groups Urge Congress to Choose Farmers over Big Meat in Ag Appropriations Bill
The letter calls out an appropriations policy rider as an “unacceptable attack” on the USDA’s ability to ensure fair competition for farmers.
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 13, 2023 — 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.
“It is wrong for members of Congress to use the cover of an appropriations bill to quietly deny the country’s poultry and livestock producers from a deserved fair shake,” said Billy Hackett, Policy Specialist for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). “The ongoing, public process to promote transparency and competition in the marketplace by modernizing the Packers and Stockyards Act is aligned with core American values and must continue.”
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, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, National Farmers Union, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils, the letter lists 102 signing organizations.
The Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform (CCAR) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a voice for farmers and ranchers involved in contract agriculture, as well as the communities in which they live.
The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment is a coalition of state and national organizations working to change policies that promote consolidation in animal agriculture.
Farm Action is a farmer-led organization fighting corporate monopolies in agriculture. We envision a fair, sustainable, and healthy food system that empowers farmers, ranchers, and rural communities to feed their neighbors.
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of more than 220,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is a grassroots alliance that advocates for federal policy reform supporting the long-term social, economic, and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.
The Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA) challenges the root causes of unjust food systems, supporting and advocating for economically, racially, and ecologically just farm communities.
The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) is a network of nine grassroots organizations in seven Western states with 19,935 members, many of them ranchers and farmers committed to common-sense reform in agriculture, oil and gas development, coal mine reclamation, and rural economic development. Headquartered in Billings, Mont., WORC also has an office in Washington, D.C.