The saga of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules (FFFR), sometimes known as the GIPSA Rules, has come to an end, and in the worst way possible: On October 18th, the USDA announced that it will discard the FFPR (they'd previously delayed any decision on the future of these rules).
In short, this is a huge victory for corporations, bad for farmers (and anyone who cares about farmers), extremely bad for animal welfare, and disastrous in the precedent it sets for labor laws in the agriculture industry.
To fully understand, it’s important to have a working knowledge of some of the common practices of the livestock and poultry industry in the U.S., which is dominated by a few gigantic corporations whose names you probably know (Tyson, Purdue, Pilgrim’s Pride). We’ll focus on chickens for now, as that’s the sector likely to be most affected by discarding the FFPR.
These corporations primarily work with “contract farmers,” who own their land and equipment but not the actual chickens. The corporations ship out chicks to the contract farmers, who raise them to adulthood. Then the corporations pick them up for slaughtering and processing. Today, a whopping 97 percent of the chicken produced in the U.S. are farmed this way.