Grassley, Tester Urge USDA to Defend Small Livestock Producers
WASHINGTON – Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and sent a letter to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Undersecretary Greg Ibach outlining key priorities to help family farmers compete with large corporations. This comes as USDA begins to clarify rules within the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Grassley and Tester — the only farmers in the U.S. Senate — are urging USDA to provide protections for livestock and poultry farmers against unfair and deceptive practices by meatpackers and poultry companies, as well as to stop companies from giving unreasonable preference to some farmers over others.
“Family farmers and ranchers are vital to the strength of rural America. They provide the food security that America needs to thrive and create jobs in small towns across the country,” the senators wrote. “…It’s critically important for USDA to limit the control and influence of meatpackers and poultry companies and provide recourse for small producers facing predatory practices.”
Grassley and Tester are requesting that USDA protect farmers from retaliation when they express concerns to USDA or Congress, clarify that the Packers and Stockyards Act does not require a demonstration of harm across the entire industry, defend small producers against preferential marketing agreements for large livestock producers and provide security and transparency within the tournament system used to pay poultry growers.
The 2008 Farm Bill required USDA to issue regulations clarifying aspects of the Packers and Stockyards Act, providing protections to family farms. In 2017, USDA announced that they would no longer be implementing the rules, prompting Grassley and Tester to denounce the decision and demand that USDA move forward with rulemaking. This spring, USDA announced that it would be clarifying the rules in the fall, though no other announcements have since been made.
The letter is supported by the Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, Family Farm Action, Farm Aid, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Food & Water Watch, Government Accountability Project, National Farmers Union, National Family Farm Coalition, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Organization for Competitive Markets, Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA and the Western Organization of Resource Councils.
The full text of the letter is available HERE.