Center for Rural Affairs submits comments on Farmer Fair Practice rules

Release Date: 

03/31/2017

Contact(s): 

Anna Johnson, policy program associate, annaj@cfra.org, 515.215.1294;
or Rhea Landholm, brand marketing and communications manager, rheal@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext 1025

Lyons, Neb. - The Center for Rural Affairs submitted comments last week to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the Farmer Fair Practice Rules, an interim final rule and two proposed rules implementing provisions of the Packers & Stockyards Act. The comment period ended March 24.

The Center applauds the advancement of these rules and urges the USDA to finalize the two proposed rules. For many years, the organization has advocated for the rights of independent livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers.

“Livestock and poultry production has long been a pillar of economic opportunity for rural communities,” said Anna Johnson, policy program associate. “For too long, the lack of clarity on what constitutes as unfair practices or undue burdens has unfairly limited poultry and livestock producers’ ability to conduct business with packers on fair and equal terms. These rules represent an opportunity to level the playing field for hard-working poultry and livestock producers.”

An excerpt of submitted comments:

“We applaud the positive impact these rules will have for the poultry, hog and cattle industries. Our supporters are particularly concerned with the positive impact it will have on the hog industry. Many of the farmers and ranchers we work with once raised hogs but had to give them up when the industry moved toward favoring and prioritizing large scale contract hog production. Because basic protections for producers like those in these rules were not in place, many producers were unable to confront the meatpacking companies about unfair treatment they were receiving. This trend is not limited to our supporters – the number of hog producers in the U.S. has dwindled drastically over the past few decades. In 1980, there were over 666,000 hog farms in the U.S.; the 2012 Census of Agriculture reported 63,246 farms with hogs and pigs, a decline of over 90 percent. This decline the financial viability of hog farms has helped to undercut the health of many rural communities. These rules will help ensure that the remaining contract hog producers are able to receive fairer treatment from packing companies.”

To view the submitted comments, please visit www.cfra.org/news/FarmerFairPracticeComments.

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