These are dark days for family farmers and ranchers in America, but we have hope. While farmers and ranchers have fought alone for decades against corporate abuse in our food supply, today they have you on their side.After 30 years of failure to enforce antitrust legislation against giant meat cartels, the growing trend of excessive market concentration and the rise of factory farms, America’s independent family farmers and ranchers are being squeezed out of existence.
Failure to provide fair market livestock rules has resulted in nearly 160,000 independent cattle producers being driven out of business in that past 15 years, while Iowa has lost more than 72% of its independent family hog farmers who used to form the backbone of our rural communities and farm economy.
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 and the Obama administration to weaken these vital rules that would provide fair market contract protections for small and midsized farmers for the first time.
Please call the White House today and urge President Obama to stand up for family farmers to make sure they receive fair market contracts and no longer experience unfair price discrimination.
America’s farmers and ranchers are closely watching the administration’s decision on GIPSA, hoping that President Obama will live up to his campaign promise and stand up for family farmers because they know what this decision means for future generations of farmers.
Nobody knows the stakes better than Colorado rancher Mike Calicrate, who not only was nearly driven out of business by agribusiness’ unfair practices in the 1990, but gained widespread acclaim when he decided to stand up against the industry abuse and sue Farmland National Beef and IBP, now Tysons, the nation’s leading beef packer at the time. Unfortunately, things haven’t changed much since Mike’s lawsuit.
“Today’s livestock producers are caught in an unfair system that traps them in debt and forces them to take whatever contracts Big Ag cartels offer them. And even though the Packers and Stockyards Act specifically prohibits price discrimination by meatpackers against small family farm and ranch operations, it has been a standard industry practice for decades,” says Calicrate.
Now President Obama’s decision to stand up for America’s farmers could make all the difference.
America’s farmers and ranchers like Mike Calicrate need you today, please take a moment and join them by calling the White House to make sure that President Obama keep his word on creating fair livestock reforms for family farmers.
According to current industry practices it’s common for meatpackers to “routinely pay five or six cents more per pound, more in some cases, in purely volume-based premiums to the largest hog producers simply because they are large.” And while six cents doesn’t sound like much, for an independent family farmer operating with just a 150 sows, it amounts to receiving $56,000 a year less at market for their livestock. And no one can afford that type of loss, especially America’s family farmers.2
These practices are not only unfair, but they are undemocratic and place family farmers at a serious disadvantage in the marketplace. At a time when the Obama administration and Washington DC are talking about creating jobs and improving economic opportunities for families everywhere, one of the simplest things they could do would be to improve opportunities for family farmers and rural America is to allow farmers to have access to fair markets. The best way to do this is to tell the Obama administration to finalize the fair market contract (GIPSA) rules today.
Click on the link below to tell President Obama it’s time to stand up for family farmers. Not only are they the backbone of our democracy, but they are the ones who provide us with the best, most sustainably raised food in the country.
Thanks for taking action — 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.