WASHINGTON - National Farmers Union (NFU) signed a coalition letter on March 13 urging opposition to a policy rider in the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution that would rescind regulations that help ensure fair markets for poultry growers.
The letter, addressed to Senate Appropriation Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and Ranking Member Richard Shelby, R-Ala., asked that the policy rider be removed. These protections are among the very few components of the 2010 USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule that were allowed to be implemented.
The letter states: The gross mistreatment of poultry growers has been widely reported and the USDA regulations respond directly to the directives from the 2008 Farm Bill requiring USDA to address the most egregious of these abuses. Those rules, which are now in effect, would be rescinded by the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution now pending in the Senate.
NFU has long supported better enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act in order to ensure that farmers and ranchers have access to fair prices that are not manipulated by packers and processors.
Concentration has left poultry and livestock markets uncompetitive, said NFU President Roger Johnson. Independent poultry growers are few because of the dominance of vertically-integrated poultry integrators. The top four packers control 81 percent of the beef market and 65 percent of the hog market. If the Senate includes this rider in the continuing resolution, poultry farmers, who have suffered the most from the lack of competitive markets, will be hurt even more. Pork and beef producers should be very concerned that their markets are going to be targeted next.