What About Competition?

The Center for Rural Affairs has said many times – farmers, ranchers and rural communities want, need and deserve livestock market reforms that restore competition and ensure access to equitable markets for all livestock producers.
Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Tom Harkin introduced the Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Act of 2007 earlier in the year, and will likely include it in his farm bill proposal as a competition title.

There are flickers of hope that the House will find the courage to debate competition issues while writing the farm bill.  Livestock Subcommittee Chair Leonard Boswell held a livestock competition hearing on April 17th (http://www.cfra.org/competition), the first competition hearing in the House in many years.  He then introduced the House version of the Competitive and Fair Agricultural Markets Act, with bipartisan co-sponsorship.

Meanwhile, support for livestock competition reforms is growing.  The Center for Rural Affairs, American Farm Bureau Federation and National Farmers Union sent a letter to Representative Boswell and Senator Harkin outlining the competition provisions that the three organizations agree should be included in the farm bill (http://www.cfra.org/competition).

Representative Boswell has not, as yet, offered his legislation as an amendment to the farm bill.  He did offer an amendment to prohibit mandatory arbitration clauses in livestock productions contracts, which passed his subcommittee on a vote of 8 to 6 – a hopeful sign for competition reforms.  And competition proponents continue to press for inclusion of key competition provisions when the House Agriculture Committee debates the farm bill at the end of June.


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