FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2016
IOWA FARMERS UNION WELCOMES FARMER FAIR PRACTICES RULES AS “COMMON SENSE PROTECTIONS” FOR FAMILY FARMERS
AMES (Dec. 16, 2016) –The Iowa Farmers Union (IFU) is pleased by this week’s announcement that the long-awaited Farmer Fair Practices Rules, which aim to level the playing field for family livestock producers and poultry growers, have been published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) submitted to OMB an interim final rule that gives producers protection against unfair or discriminatory contract practices and two proposed rules that provide oversight for pricing and payment practices.
“Iowa’s family livestock producers and poultry growers have been dealing with a heavily concentrated marketplace with no meaningful protection against unfair, anti-competitive practices,” said IFU President Aaron Lehman. “We have been waiting a long time for the problem to be addressed, and I’m happy to see this important set of rules finally moving forward.”
A provision was included in the 2008 Farm Bill authorizing USDA to improve GIPSA regulations. Until recently, groups representing the livestock and poultry processing sectors had succeeded in pressuring lawmakers to block the funding needed for USDA to finalize new rules that would protect family farmers.
“The playing field is tilted too far to the side of the processors and packers,” said Lehman. “The new rules won’t fix all the problems with anti-competitive and fraudulent practices in our livestock and poultry markets, but it’s certainly a big step in the right direction.”
Earlier this month, IFU members at the 2016 IFU Annual Convention adopted a special order of business on market competition calling for greater antitrust oversight of mergers that have been further concentrating supply chains and markets for farmers across the agricultural sector.
“These new rules are common sense protections for Iowa’s family farmers,” concluded Lehman. “We know that both farmers and consumers benefit when markets are competitive, transparent, and fair. We look forward to carefully reviewing the final published rules and working to make sure they are implemented in a way that works for Iowa’s family farmers.”