Independent Farmers are Being Trampled by Big Ag

Factory farms have pushed small farmers out of business while twenty massive companies produce more than 96% of the nation’s chicken.

Updated: December 14, 2016 

Today, The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) announced updated regulations to protect farmers. Under GIPSA, small poultry farmers receive basic protections like making it illegal for companies to retaliate against farmers, and offering them access to a jury trial if grievances arise. The “Farmer Fair Practices Rules” target the most harmful practices hurting farmers and clearly outlines common sense protections to restore fairness and reduce the burden for farmers seeking justice under this nearly 100 year old act meant to eliminate abusive practices in the meatpacking industry. Farm Forward applauds the administration’s efforts to help create a more fair, just, and humane food system.

Full PDF of Press Release Available Here

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September 26, 2016 — In yet another attempt to manipulate an already inhumane and unjust poultry industry, Tyson Foods is lobbying Congress to prevent legislation that provides basic protections for poultry farmers. It’s no secret that the poultry industry is fundamentally unjust—from animal welfare abuse, to environmental destruction, worker’s rights abuses and unjust contracts with small farmers—but these “anti-farmer” legislative efforts are a new low.

Under the USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers, and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), small poultry farmers receive basic protections like making it illegal for companies to retaliate against farmers, and offering them access to a jury trial if grievances arise, and big poultry wants to erode them. As the September 30 deadline approaches for finalizing annual spending bills, lobbyists including Tyson Foods are working tirelessly to pass what is known as the “GIPSA Rider.” If successful, this rider will block the USDA from enacting farmer protection rules that were implemented in 2011 and continue to be blocked by the industry.

The Problem with Big Ag

Factory farms have pushed small farmers out of business while twenty massive companies produce more than 96% of the nation’s chicken.According to Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket,

Tyson keeps farmers in a state of indebted servitude living like modern-day sharecroppers on the ragged edge of bankruptcy.”1

Tyson’s depends on its farmers, but their desire to produce the most meat for the lowest cost has created a system that jeopardizes the lives and livelihood of the men and women who do most of the work. This past April, journalist Nicholas Kristof wrote an exposé in The New York Times highlighting the deep, inherent problems with our current poultry system. The piece sheds light on the fact that the poultry industry is systematically inhumane for birds, dangerous for the environment and human health, and unjust for farmers.

At a time when the poultry industry is reporting record earnings, it’s abhorrent that they’re lobbying for legislation at the expense of small farmers. Many contract poultry farmers lose money each year, and of those growers whose sole income is from farming, 71% live below the poverty line.2  We have to stand up for these independent farmers.

Taking A Stand With Farmers

For years, Farm Forward has worked to create a more just and sustainable food system. What sets us apart from other sustainable agriculture and animal welfare organizations is our commitment to small farmers who provide alternatives to factory farming. We forge relationships with the people who interact with animals the most because they’re part of the solution.

Our latest project to change the industrialized poultry system—and ultimately the way America eats and farms—is an outreach campaign to engage consumers in taking action to stand with farmers. Please sign our petition and tell Congress to stop the poultry industry from hurting small farms for their own profit.

Thank you for joining us in taking a stand to build a more just and humane food system. Please share this article with friends and family on facebook  and twitter and let them know that these issues are important to you.

We can’t do this work without your help. Please donate now and help us continue our unique work to end factory farming. You can also sign up to receive our newsletter to stay updated on other ways to get involved.

 Take Action Read Next

  1. Christopher Leonard, The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014), 3, available here.
  2. “The Business of Broilers: Hidden Costs of Putting a Chicken on Every Grill,” The Pew Charitable Trust, December 2013, available here.

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