Posted by Dave on September 7, 2011
Call the Senate to say that Fair Market Livestock Rules - GIPSA - Is about jobs and saving family farms. It's time to enforce fair market GIPSA rules for farmers today!
Farmers need you more than ever and we hope that you can take a brief moment to make a call on their behalf.
Today, the Senate Appropriations Committee is meeting to decide on budget cuts and there's no more important decision for farmers being made than the one on fair market livestock rules that will impact whether farm animals raised by independent family farmers survives or goes the way of the dodo.
If it ain't one thing, it's another...
For the past three decades livestock and meat packing companies have engaged in merger after merger, until the sector is so highly consolidated that it no longer operates as a competitive market. Instead, large industrial packers have used excessive consolidation to unjustly discriminate against small and medium sized livestock producers with unfair contracts and deceptive practices when farmers sell their livestock at market.
Today only 4 companies control nearly 84 percent of beef packing while another 4 control more than 66 percent of hogs. Such concentration has diminished farmer profit and increasingly placed farmers at the mercy of meat cartel contracts, which have proven to be abusive if not corrupt.
This rampant consolidation and the resulting anti-competitive practices have needlessly driven nearly a million farmers off the land over the past 30 years. Since 1980, the U.S. has lost more 600,000 hog farmers and more the 160,000 independent cattle producers in the past 15 years alone. During this time hog farmers have seen their take home pay cut in half as cattle producers have seen it drop nearly 40 percent.
While bacon and burgers are still arriving on America’s plates everyday, the loss of farmers and farmer profits and the placing of production into the hand of fewer producers and packers has gutted rural America of one of its best avenues for job creation while simultaneously stalling its chance for long-term economic viability.
Fortunately, when President Obama ran for office he recognized the threats that unfair livestock rules posed for farmers and rural America and he pledged to stand up for fair contracts for farmers.1
Already in the last year, the USDA has written a set of proposed fair market contract rules under Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) that would make it illegal for packers and slaughter houses to unfairly discriminate against independent farmers. Unfortunately, those rules have not been finalized and giant agribusiness meat interests are pressuring Secretary Vilsack, President Obama and the U.S. Senate to weaken these vital rules that would provide fair market contract protections for small and midsized farmers for the first time.
America's farmers and ranchers are closely watching the decision on GIPSA, hoping that the U.S. Senate will stand up for family farmers because they know what this decision means for future generations of farmers.
Thanks for taking action to protect America's farmers — your support is greatly appreciated! We need your help to keep the pressure on! If you can, please consider chipping in as little as $10 to help us continue this fight.
We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.
Thank you for participating in food democracy — your action today may save family livestock producers and help free our food supply from corporate control.
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team
1. "The Obama-Biden Plan" Change.gov
2."Corporate Farming: A Reasonable Hope for Fairness", Center for Rural Affairs, August 2010.