Press Statement – June 19, 2012
House Appropriations Bill Threatens Critical USDA Rule – Farmers, Advocates Say
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The version of the FY2013 agriculture appropriations bill passed by the Appropriations Committee of the US House of Representatives today would overturn a rule that provides important protections from unfair treatment to thousands of American contract poultry growers.
Representative Kaptur’s amendment to uphold the 2011 USDA Grain Inspectors, Packers and Stockyards Administration rule during the appropriations process was defeated early this afternoon.
The GIPSA rule has extended new rights to contract farmers, who often incur hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and have contracts that may only last a few months:
- Companies can no longer force farmers to spend money on expensive equipment upgrades without proper compensation.
- The federal Packers and Stockyards Act, which has provided some key protections for broiler chicken farmers, now protects pullet growers and breeders as well.
- Farmers have some protection from financial loss when they receive a flock late through no fault of their own.
“This rule has already gone through the proper rule-making process,” said Becky Ceartas, Contract Agriculture. “More than 66,000 comments were submitted about the GIPSA rule. Industry and farmers both had a chance to give input. It is already a compromise.”
The two largest farm organizations in the nation, National Farmers Union and the American Farm Bureau, joined 133 farm groups in supporting the Kaptur Amendment.
In its letter, the American Farm Bureau Federation called the rule a fair balance between farmers and companies, and said it was helpful in “balancing the negotiating position of growers regarding additional capital investments and provid[ing] growers more options to settle contract disputes.”
Ceartas said, “I hope that the members of full House will listen to America’s farmers and farm organizations and uphold the GIPSA rule in the final appropriations bill.”
“Each of the hundreds of farmers who spoke up for these regulations during the rule-making process did so at risk of retaliation,” said Ceartas. “Some of them are now struggling to keep their family’s farm.”
“Representatives Kaptur and Bishop stood up for those farmers today. Unless their colleagues do the same, contract poultry farmers will not have the tools they need to protect their livelihoods when they face unfair treatment and retaliation,” Ceartas said.
For more information about the GIPSA rule and how it affects American poultry growers, visit www.rafiusa.org/rule. RAFI is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that cultivates markets, policies and communities that support thriving, environmentally sound, socially just family farms.