“Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released long-overdue rules to protect farmers — especially chicken growers — from unfair, abusive and anti-competitive contracts. These rules have been languishing for nearly a decade. There are two proposed rules: One rule pertains to the ways in which growers are paid and the other sets clearer criteria to safeguard poultry growers from the worst contract abuses. Additionally, one interim final rule clarifies the statutory protections for individual farmers from unfair treatment.
“These proposed and interim rules provide important, though modest, protections for farmers, but fall far short of the safeguards mandated by the 2008 Farm Bill. Hopefully, these rules can provide a foundation for strengthening farmer protections in the face of an increasingly consolidated poultry, hog and cattle slaughter and processing industry. The incoming administration should keep its campaign pledge to stand up for everyday people against Washington special interests and finalize these important safeguards for farmers.
“In 2009, the Obama Administration made a commitment to shield farmers from the worst abuses of the hyper-concentrated agribusiness industry with a series of high-level workshops. The release of today’s rules is a long overdue step in the right direction. But farmers and consumers had much higher hopes that this administration would take bold, decisive action to restore competition to livestock markets and curb the unfair contracts that are commonplace in the poultry industry and are spreading through hog and cattle markets.”
Contact: Kate Fried, Food & Water Watch, (202) 683-4905, [email protected].