November 15, 2016
For Immediate Release:
Contact: Michael Pauker, firstname.lastname@example.org, 646-335-0330
United States Representative Chellie Pingree Hosts Poultry Farmers and Advocates for a Capitol Hill Discussion on Contract Agriculture
Attendants will view “Under Contract”, a new documentary on abusive practices in the industry
Washington, DC, November 15, 2016 – Contract poultry farmers raise 97% of all chicken consumed in the United States, but many struggle to make a living in an industry controlled by the largest poultry companies and infamous for abusive, unfair, and anti-competitive practices. In fact, many contract farmers face insurmountable debt and even bankruptcy. Those who have dared to speak out against the unfair treatment are often blacklisted from the industry and face the possibility of losing their family farms. To draw attention to the struggles of these farmers and to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s completion of the Farmer Fair Practices rules (currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget), United States Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will host the “Stand With Contract Farmers” event on Monday, December 5 at 6:30 pm at the South Orientation Theater in the Capitol Visitor Center.
She will be joined by contract poultry farmers, the Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, Food & Water Watch, the National Farmers Union, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI-USA), R-CALF USA, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC).
“For too long, Congress has turned a deaf ear to the plight of contract chicken farmers and taken sides with the large companies who have these farmers under their thumb. The Farmer Fair Practices rules are long overdue and drastically needed to level the playing field in the livestock industry,” said Representative Chellie Pingree. “I applaud Secretary Vilsack for helping to protect the rights of farmers, and I will oppose any attempt to stop or delay these common-sense rules.”
Attendees of the event will also view the documentary film “Under Contract“, produced by RAFI-USA. This film explores the daily lives of contract poultry farmers, who are forced to compete for expensive contracts and to take on excessive financial risk and debt while their integrators reap billions in profits. The film is set to be released in February 2017.
“The farmers we met and filmed shared powerful stories of working hard but struggling to hold onto their farm and make payments out of their chicken check,” said the film’s director and Program Director at RAFI-USA Sally Lee. “They risked retaliation from the industry to speak with us and they deserve a fair playing field. Finalizing the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules would be a critical first step to enforcing fairness in this industry.”
“The American people need to know how Big Agriculture, especially Big Chicken, treats the farmers that toil every day to produce their product. I hope that people learn from this documentary that it has been nearly 20 years since chicken growers have had a pay raise even though company profits have been in the billions of dollars recently,” said Mike Weaver, a poultry farmer whose story is featured in the film.
“The image companies, such as Tyson and Perdue, project is very far from the reality of their business model,” said Craig Watts, another farmer from the film. “I felt the public needed a clear view of the reality I saw everyday not the public whitewashed version.”
About the Sponsors:
CCAR: The Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform 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 goal of the campaign is to assure that the processor-producer relationship serves as a fair partnership, rather than a dictatorship.
FWW: Food & Water Watch champions healthy food and clean water for all. We stand up to corporations that put profits before people, and advocate for a democracy that improves people’s lives and protects our environment.
NFU: National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership. Learn more at https://nfu.org/
NSAC: The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition 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. Learn more: https://sustainableagriculture.net
RAFI-USA: The Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA’s mission is to cultivate markets, policies, and communities that sustain thriving, socially just, and environmentally sound family farms. RAFI works nationally and internationally, focusing on North Carolina and the southeastern United States. RAFI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Pittsboro, North Carolina and incorporated in 1990.