Updated: October 17, 2017
In a major blow to small and independent farmers today the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced it will withdraw an interim final rule from the Obama Administration that would have set proof of harm standards under the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Updated: December 14, 2016
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced updated regulations to protect farmers. Under GIPSA, small poultry farmers receive basic protections like making it illegal for companies to retaliate against farmers, and offering them access to a jury trial if grievances arise. The “Farmer Fair Practices Rules” target the most harmful practices hurting farmers and clearly outlines common sense protections to restore fairness and reduce the burden for farmers seeking justice under this nearly 100 year old act meant to eliminate abusive practices in the meatpacking industry. Farm Forward applauds the Administration’s efforts to help create a more fair, just, and humane food system.
Full PDF of Press Release Available Here
September 26, 2016 — In yet another attempt to manipulate an already inhumane and unjust poultry industry, Tyson Foods is lobbying Congress to prevent legislation that provides basic protections for poultry farmers. It’s no secret that the poultry industry is fundamentally unjust—from animal welfare abuse to environmental destruction to worker’s rights abuses to unjust contracts with small farmers—but these “anti-farmer” legislative efforts are a new low.
Under the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), small poultry farmers receive basic protections like making it illegal for companies to retaliate against farmers and offering them access to a jury trial if grievances arise. Big poultry wants to erode these protections. As the September 30 deadline approaches for finalizing annual spending bills, lobbyists including Tyson Foods are working tirelessly to pass what is known as the “GIPSA Rider.” If successful, this rider will block the USDA from enacting farmer protection rules that were implemented in 2011 and continue to be blocked by the industry.
The Problem with Big Ag
Factory farms have pushed small farmers out of business while twenty massive companies produce more than 96% of the nation’s chicken.According to Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket,
Tyson keeps farmers in a state of indebted servitude living like modern-day sharecroppers on the ragged edge of bankruptcy.1
Tyson depends on its farmers, but the company’s desire to produce the most meat for the lowest cost has created a system jeopardizing the lives and livelihood of the men and women who do most of the work. This past April, journalist Nicholas Kristof wrote an exposé in the New York Times highlighting the deep, inherent problems with our current poultry system. The piece sheds light on the poultry industry’s systematic abuse of birds, dangers to the environment and human health, and injustice to farmers.
At a time when the poultry industry is reporting record earnings, many contract poultry farmers lose money each year. Seventy one percent of farmers whose sole income is from farming live below the poverty line.2 Yet the prosperous poultry industry still lobbies for legislation at the expense of small farmers. We have to stand up for these independent farmers.
Taking A Stand With Farmers
For years, Farm Forward has worked to create a more just and sustainable food system. What sets us apart from other sustainable agriculture and animal welfare organizations is our commitment to small farmers who provide alternatives to factory farming. We forge relationships with the people who interact with animals the most because they’re part of the solution.
Our latest project to change the industrialized poultry system—and ultimately the way America eats and farms—is an outreach campaign to engage consumers in taking action to stand with farmers. Please sign our petition and tell Congress to stop the poultry industry from hurting small farms for their own profit.
Thank you for joining us in taking a stand to build a more just and humane food system. Please share this article with friends and family on Facebook and Twitter and let them know that these issues are important to you.
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