CONTACT: Becky Ceartas, 919-621-8453, firstname.lastname@example.org
June 6, 2012
RAFI Comment on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Mark Up – FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies marked up the FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill today.
The Agriculture Appropriations bill that was reported out of committee is using a back-door approach to overturn an existing regulation: the 2011 USDA Grain Inspectors, Packers and Stockyards Administration rule that protects contract poultry growers from company abuses.
The rule in question helps thousands of poultry farmers throughout the country by giving them common-sense protections:
It protects farmers from being forced to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on expensive equipment upgrades in order to keep their contracts and stay on their family farms.
It provides pullet and breeder poultry farmers with much needed protections under the Packers and Stockyards Act. Previously, these poultry farmers could not contact anyone at USDA for help if they had a contract dispute with their company. Now they have the same protections as farmers who raise broilers.
It keeps farmers from losing thousands of dollars if they get a flock from the company late through no fault of their own.
“In the implementation process, USDA heard from hundreds of farmers who risked retaliation and the loss of their livelihood by commenting,” said Becky Ceartas, director of RAFI’s Contract Agriculture Reform Program.
“The appropriations process is a completely inappropriate vehicle for stripping away these hard-won rights,” Ceartas said. “We hope that the full committee will do the right thing and amend the bill to remove language that would overturn the rule.”