Recap and Results from #StandWithFarmFamilies Trip to DC

If you follow RAFI-USA, then you’ll know we recently traveled with a group of farmers to Washington, DC to advocate for strong farmer protections in an upcoming USDA rule release process. In the coming weeks to months, the USDA will release a rule governing Undue Preference between large meat packing corporations and individual farmers & ranchers. This rule would make it illegal for any meat packing corporation to give Undue Preference to any person, and conversely to show any undue prejudice to any person. While the intent of this rule’s mandate is clear, the details will show how the agency intends to enforce this rule, and whether or not farmers will be protected from corporate retaliation, abuse, and exploitation.

Farmers need their government to craft strong safeguards against corporate power. That’s why we made the trip to DC. RAFI-USA partnered with the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and the Government Accountability Project (GAP) on this work. Our farmer group included farmers from 7 states – South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina – and represented all major forms of animal agriculture, hogs, poultry, and cattle; independent ranchers, pastured farmers, and contract growers. This group really represented the wide range of animal husbandry and views on raising livestock. Many of these farmers and ranchers are advocates for environmentally sustainable animal production, humane animal treatment, and open markets free from corporate domination.

We made a total of 33 Hill visits, spoke to USDA representatives, met with staffers from the Senate and House Ag. Committees, held a Congressional briefing, and live streamed a farmer press conference officially launching our campaign. As a result, our work was featured in more than 11 publications, including The Hagstrom Report, Civil Eats, Politico, and more. On the first day of the petition launch, we gathered more than 50,000 signatures. Now, the petition has more than 80,000 signatures and has inspired other organizations to launch their own independent petitions demanding strong protections for farm families.

When we met with elected officials in DC we had one strong, central request: support us in our fight against the corporate domination of our food supply. We appreciate that Senator Tester (D-MT) and Congresswoman Kaptur (D-OH) volunteered to circulate a Dear Colleague letter that Members of Congress could sign to show their support for our cause. Many legislators took the time to listen to us, more than 25 in total, but only a few that we met with decided to sign this letter supporting farm families in their fight for justice against corporate abuses.

We want to take a moment to thank those legislators who took the time to meet with us and had the courage to stand with these families.

Thank you, Senator John Tester (D-MT)
Thank you, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Thank you, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Thank you, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Thank you, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Thank you, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL)
Thank you, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Thank you, Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI)

We also want to thank those legislators who did not meet with us during this trip, but still knew that signing this letter was the right thing to do.

Thank you, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Thank you, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
Thank you, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Thank you, Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH)
Thank you, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
Thank you, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME)
Thank you, Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA)
Thank you, Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Thank you, Congressman James McGovern (D-MA)

We also want to thank Brett Offutt, Chief Legal Officer, Packers & Stockyards Div. of USDA for taking the time to meet with our group and answer questions about the upcoming rule making process.

Would you like to support sending more farmers to DC to speak the truth about our food system? We appreciate your support!

View photos from the trip: