Today family farmers face some of the worst times since the Great Depression. For years poultry growers have suffered under unfair contracts and unlivable wages, which has increasingly gotten worse over the past several decades due to increased concentration and lax enforcement of existing laws, such as the Packers and Stockyards Act. These joint Department of Justice/USDA hearings are an opportunity for justice, but farmers are being silenced by corporate agribusiness who doesn’t want the DOJ to hear their story. They need your voice today. Please stand with them!
Here are the comments that we will submit on your behalf to the Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Tom Vilsack. Adding your own personal comments makes your statement even more powerful!
“Dear Attorney General Holder and Secretary Vilsack, I am greatly concerned about the lack of competition in the food and agricultural sectors of our economies and how this negatively impacts family farmers, consumers and all Americans as they work to feed their families food that is safe, healthy and nutritious. For too long, agribusiness corporations have been allowed to consolidate until their market power influences unfair prices that farmers are paid for their goods, the prices they pay for inputs and the price that consumers pay at the grocery store. Unfair market concentration has also created an overly centralized food system which is no more evident than in the poultry industry. I ask that you take aggressive action to enforce existing laws such as the Packers and Stockyards Act as a means to prohibit unfair and deceptive trade practices by poultry companies; prohibit poultry companies from requiring growers to install expensive upgrades in poultry house at their own expense; and end the current system of payment for poultry growers. As you are well aware, the current system is unfair and deceptive, giving companies free rein to manipulate payment to growers based on factors completely out of growers’ control. This system is unique to poultry and does not exist in any other sector of our economy and its practice needs to be prohibited. It’s time to investigate how concentration in the poultry sector has resulted in cuts in payments to contract poultry growers in the past. Because of lack of competition, the pay that growers receive has been stagnant and even declined. Records show that between 1995-2009 growers had a negative net return for 10 of the 15 years. Poultry growers and society at large deserve a fair and competitive market where contracts and agreements are negotiated upon from a position of similar power, to the mutual benefit of both growers and companies. Unfair practices and injustice in agriculture affect us all, but none more than the farmers who continue to suffer. I ask that you take swift and decisive action on these issues. Sincerely,