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Organic Consumers Association Calls on Congress to Oppose Rider that Would Weaken GIPSA Rules

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Politics and Democracy page and our Farm Issues page.

May 30, 2014    

Organic Consumers Association, Katherine Paul, 207.653.3090

FINLAND, Minn. - The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) today asked its million-plus members to call on Congress to reject efforts by the meat industry to weaken protections for farmers. 

Tyson Foods, the nation’s largest factory farm producer of chicken, beef and pork is behind a proposed policy rider to the House Appropriations Committee’s 2015 spending bill. The rider would weaken rules, written by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA). The rules are intended to protect contract farmers who raise animals for the four companies that control nearly all the meat eaten in the U.S.

GIPSA is an agency of the USDA that writes the rules intended to promote “fair and competitive trading practices for the overall benefit of consumers and American agriculture.”

“John Tyson has built a fortune by squeezing farmers, giving them an increasingly smaller share of each consumer dollar spent on Tyson products,” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the OCA. “ Over the years, farmers’ incomes have dropped, as Tyson has watched his profit margins rise.”

Under the current GIPSA rules, the rules that Tyson doesn’t want to regulate his meat empire, Tyson would have to:
•    Give poultry farmers adequate notice of plans to suspend delivery of chicks;
•    Meet stricter criteria to require farmers to make additional capital investments in their poultry or hog farm;
•    Provide a reasonable period of time for a farmer to remedy a breach of contract that could lead to termination of their contract; and
•    Let farmers take disputes to court if the arbitration process outlined in the contract doesn’t adequately protect farmers’ rights.

The GIPSA rider, which OCA has dubbed the “Tyson Foods Anti-Farmer Act,” is opposed by 168 farmer, rancher, consumer, labor, farmworker and faith organizations.

Consumers are urged to contact their senators and representatives, and ask them to oppose the GIPSA rider.