October 14, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Wolfe, 202-547-574, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ferd Hoefner, 202-547-574, email@example.com
NSAC Applauds USDA for Moving Forward with Farmer Fair Practices Rules
Washington, DC, Oct 14, 2016 – We thank Secretary Vilsack for moving forward on the Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration’s (GIPSA) “Farmer Fair Practices Rules”, which were sent today by USDA to the Office of Management and Budget for final sign-off. These rules will help level the playing field for farmers in an industry that has historically been anything but fair and transparent. When these rules go into effect, as we hope they will soon, livestock and poultry farmers will finally have some of the basic protections in the workplace that most of us take for granted.
The Farmer Fair Practices Rules include two proposed rules, and an interim final rule. The proposed rules address the poultry tournament payment system and issues of undue preference, while the interim final rule clarifies that farmers need only prove they were treated unfairly by a company to secure legal remedy. Currently, farmers are required to not only prove harm to themselves and their businesses, but they must also prove that the result of the harm impacted competition industry-wide. The interim final rule will clarify and underscore the plain language of the Packers and Stockyards Act, which requires no proof of harm to competition from a complainant.
In a letter to industry groups, USDA made clear that they have given ample consideration to the previous 60,000+ comments on the 2010 proposed rules, and that they have crafted both the proposed rules and interim final rule with an eye toward creating a fair and balanced marketplace for farmers, contract producers, and their industries. We hope that the opponents of these common-sense rules will recognize this intention, and acknowledge that USDA has addressed their concerns – many of which, as detailed in a recent letter and report sent to USDA by contract industry leaders, are based on outdated data and rules not currently being considered by GIPSA.
Both the interim final rule and the two proposed rules will have public comment periods.
“We applaud USDA and GIPSA for moving forward with the Farmer Fair Practices Rules today,” said Ferd Hoefner, NSAC Policy Director. “Once enacted, these common-sense rules will provide the first real protections in decades for farmers, ranchers, and contract producers. These rules will shield thousands of American contract producers against the anticompetitive, retaliatory and abusive business practices, which they have toiled under for far too long.”
About the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (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