Saturday, June 5, 2010

Farmers, Feds and Your Food

Ten days after the Department of Justice (DOJ) and USDA’s joint hearing on antitrust abuses in the poultry industry, folks are still appalled at the stories of threats and intimidation that farmers face from poultry companies in the U.S.

In the past 40 years, the poultry industry has become one of the most consolidated and abusive industries in agriculture, using their power and market influence to force unfair contracts on family farmers, deny them a fair, living wage and force them into a life, described by one producer as “indentured servitude.” More specifically, agribusiness corporations have been allowed to consolidate whereby its 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.

There has been limited, 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. Overall, the current system is unfair and deceptive, giving companies free rein to manipulate payment to growers based on factors completely out of growers’ control.

On the day of the DOJ/USDA hearing, an alert was distributed asking citizens to stand up for America’s chicken farmers and more than 16,000 people responded, telling the DOJ that, “It is time for these abuses to end!” Once again, farmers are asking you to help and stand up to the powerful companies that determine their fate every day. If you haven't signed the letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack telling them to investigate these monopolistic abuses and then enforce existing laws on the books, please take a moment to do so now, then please ask your friends to do the same. Please sign and add your comments, click here.

Source: Food Democracy Now

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