Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Fair, open and transparent markets are essential to rural economic recovery.  We need strong rules to curb corporate control over livestock and poultry markets and to foster a livestock industry in which small and mid-sized farmers and ranchers can thrive. - Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

House blocks GIPSA* rule, defeats income limit
Friday, June 17, 2011 

The U.S. House on Thursday knocked down proposals to set new income limits for farm program recipients and slash funds for an important export promotion program.... The House scrapped Rep. Jeff Flake’s (R-Ariz.) proposal to set an $250,000 annual adjusted gross income (AGI) limit for farm program eligibility. The current limit is $500,000 in AGI from off-farm sources or $750,000 in on-farm income...Flake also lost a bid to eliminate funding for the popular Market Access Program, which helps producer groups promote products overseas.
 (Read the Article here)

THREE YEARS AGO, Candidate Barack Obama promised to stand up for open andfair markets for family farm livestock producers.
THREE YEARS AGO, Congress passed a farm bill directing USDA to write rules to end price discrimination against small and mid-sized farmers by corporate meatpackers and processors and to ensure fair production contracts for poultry and hog producers.
ONE YEAR AGO, USDA issued a proposed rule that would reign in some of the worst abuses of giant meat packers and poultry companies
THREE WEEKS AGO, Our congress caved in to large special interests (Meatpackers and Integrators) and stripped any meaningful legislation out of the Proposal that could help the small farmer and rancher.
The proposal to set a lower annual AGI (Adjusted Gross Income) would have channeled more money to the small agricultural producer. Instead, by "stripping" the lower AGI proposal, the majority of subsidy dollars will continue to go to large corporate agricultural operations.
The Market Access Program that was also scrapped would have opened up avenues for small livestock producers and groups to overseas markets...these markets are currently almost impossible to enter without the clout of large enterprise. 
The following best explains what this means to livestock producers:

The Case for Competition

 John Crabtree

Livestock markets don't work. I should say they don't work for family farmers and ranchers - meatpackers don't have any complaints.

If you raise cattle, hogs or sheep then you sell into a largely dysfunctional market where packers hold all the cards and routinely discriminate against smaller producers by offering massive, volume-based premiums to large, industrial producers (and deep discounts to smaller farmers and ranchers).
How massive? Take a small hog farmer with a 150 sow farrow-to-finish operation that receives a small-volume discount of 6 cents per pound for his market hogs - a conservative estimate for volume discounts. At 250 pounds for each of 3,500 hogs marketed, that would mean an annual loss of $52,500 for that producer, simply for being small.
USDA is poised to propose a new rule under the Packers and Stockyards Act that will, hopefully, help address this price discrimination against smaller producers. The rule will define the term "unreasonable preference," the granting of which is prohibited under the Act but has not been well enforced absent a definition of what constitutes an "unreasonable preference."
The packers will hate whatever they come up with. But, honestly, USDA has given the packers a pass on competition laws for decades, so why should we listen to them on this one? Family farmers and ranchers want, need and deserve competitive markets in which to sell their livestock. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack should end the volume-based discrimination against small volume producers and breathe some life into their livestock markets. - Center for Rural Affairs

What does this mean to the average consumer? Higher prices, fewer choices, and the continued decline of an American Icon...the Family Farm

*Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration - Part of the U.S.D.A

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