Washington, D.C. - R-CALF USA and 20 other livestock and consumer groups sent a joint letter to leaders of the agriculture committees in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate urging the inclusion of a ban on packer ownership of livestock and other livestock and poultry reforms in the 2013 Farm Bill.
Congress is expected to resume work on the 2013 Farm Bill soon after its May 6 return from recess.
"In the few years since enactment of the 2008 Farm Bill, the United States has lost 4 percent of its beef cattle operations and 7 percent of its hog operations," the letter states as evidence for the need for Congress to enact a ban on packer ownership of livestock and other reforms designed to protect independent livestock producers and contract poultry producers from unfair, deceptive and discriminatory contracting and marketing practices.
The letter referenced the historic livestock title in the 2008 Farm Bill that included improvements to country of origin labeling (COOL) and "marketing protections for livestock and poultry producers under the Packers and Stockyards Act known as the GIPSA rule."
"Unfortunately, after Congress passed the producer protections in the 2008 Farm Bill, it quickly sabotaged its own efforts by adding language in its subsequent appropriations bills to prohibit USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) from implementing those very protections that it had passed," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard adding, "Our joint letter urges Congress to correct this inconsistency in the 2013 Farm Bill."
In addition to calling for a ban on packers ownership of livestock and repeal of the appropriations language that is blocking USDA from implementing important market protections for producers, the letter requests that the 2013 Farm Bill ban un-priced forward contracts that lead to large volumes of price-depressing captive supplies, oppose any legislative changes, studies, or delays in implementation of COOL, and prohibit meatpackers from retaliating against farmers and ranchers who attempt to speak up.
"We urge members of Congress to include these provisions in the 2013 Farm Bill to restore competition to the agricultural marketplace, level the playing field for livestock and poultry producers, benefit consumers and strengthen rural economies," the letter concludes.