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Guest Column: Call President Obama today to help save independent family farmers!

February 23, 2011

By Food Democracy Now! Team
info@fooddemocracynow.org

Tell President Obama it’s time to level the playing field for America’s family farmers – end the rules that favor agribusiness.

Call the White House today to tell President Obama to enforce fair market GIPSA rules for farmers today!

There’s been a lot of bad news out of Washington, D.C. lately. In the past three weeks, we’ve called on President Obama to retract his decisions on three newly-approved genetically-modified (GMO) crops. Incredibly, more than 110,000 American family farmers and citizens have signed a letter calling for a more comprehensive regulatory process that effectively and democratically investigates the impact that genetically-engineered crops have on human health, the environment and farmers’ long-term ability to meet the challenges of 21st-century agriculture.

At the same time, while GMOs pose a serious threat to farmers’ livelihoods, human health and the environment, they are not the only threat that farmers and our food supply face today. Of equal importance is the unparalleled control that corporations have over contract arrangements with family farmers.

Already in the last year, the USDA has written a set of proposed fair market contract rules under Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) that would make it illegal for packers and slaughter houses to unfairly discriminate against poultry, hog and cattle farmers. Unfortunately, those rules have not been finalized, and giant agribusiness meat interests are pressuring Secretary Vilsack and the Obama administration to weaken these vital rules that would provide fair market contract protections for small and midsized farmers for the first time.

Please call the White House today and urge the Obama administration to stand up for family farmers to make sure they receive fair market contracts and no longer experience unfair price discrimination.

Go to the following link for the White House phone number or e-mail: http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/348?akid=297.232872.ok3uUR&t=7

Today’s livestock producers are caught in an unfair system that traps them in debt and forces them to take whatever contracts Big Ag cartels offer them. And even though the Packers and Stockyards Act specifically prohibits price discrimination by meat packers against small family farm and ranch operations, it has been a standard industry practice for decades.

According to our friends at the Center for Rural Affairs, it’s common for meat packers to “routinely pay five or six cents more per pound, more in some cases, in purely volume-based premiums to the largest hog producers simply because they are large.” And while six cents doesn’t sound like much, for an independent family farmer operating with 150 sows, it amounts to receiving $56,000 a year less at market for their livestock. And no one can afford that type of loss, especially America’s family farmers.1

These practices are not only unfair, but they are undemocratic and place family farmers at a serious disadvantage in the marketplace. At a time when the Obama administration and Washington, D.C. are talking about creating jobs and improving economic opportunities for families everywhere, one of the simplest things they could do to improve opportunities for family farmers and rural America is to allow farmers to have access to fair markets. The best way to do this is to tell the Obama administration to finalize the fair market contract (GIPSA) rules today.

Go to the link below to tell President Obama it’s time to stand up for family farmers. Not only are they the backbone of our democracy, but they are the ones who provide us with the best, most sustainably-raised food in the country.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/348?akid=297.232872.ok3uUR&t=9

Thanks for taking action — your support is greatly appreciated! We need your help to keep the pressure on! If you can, please consider chipping in as little as $10 to help us continue this fight.

To contribute, go to: http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=297.232872.ok3uUR&t=12

We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.

Thank you for participating in food democracy—your action today may save family livestock producers and help free our food supply from corporate control.
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team

Sources: 1. “Corporate Farming: A Reasonable Hope for Fairness,” Center for Rural Affairs, August 2010.

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/349?akid=297.232872.ok3uUR&t=14

From the Feb. 23-March 1, 2011, issue

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