Family Farmers and Ranchers Sue Secretary Perdue for Illegally Halting Protections from Big Ag Abuses
Farmers from Nebraska and Alabama Push Back Against Administration’s Attempt to Dismiss Their Concerns, Call on President Trump to Keep Promise to ‘Stand by America’s Farmers’
St. Louis, Mo. — Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit heard oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s unlawful rollback of critical protections designed to safeguard family farms and ranches from predatory and retaliatory practices by big agribusiness corporations. Appearing on behalf of the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and independent farmers, Democracy Forward argued that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) acted unlawfully in withdrawing the “Farmer Fair Practices Rules” last year.
A press conference followed the hearing and can be viewed here. Photos from the press conference can be viewed here. An audio recording of the hearing can be heard here (select “September 2018” in the drop down menu and hit “Select.” Ours is Case No. 17-3723.)
Last fall, Secretary Perdue rescinded the “Farmer Fair Practices Rules”—the product of a nearly 10-year rulemaking process—which were designed to help level the playing field for poultry and livestock farmers and ensure fairness in the production of our country’s food. Despite thousands of comments from the public supporting the Rules, Secretary Perdue nonetheless took the arbitrary and capricious step of rolling back farmer protections, abdicating the responsibilities delegated to USDA by Congress.
“Farmers deserve a fair shake in their business deals. With the abusive power large agribusiness corporations now have in the market, farmers just can’t get a fair deal,” said OCM Executive Director Joe Maxwell. “Without market safeguards like the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, these large corporations are being allowed to use predatory and retaliatory practices against America’s family farmers.”
“Not only is the Trump Administration unlawfully subjecting America’s independent farmers to abusive tactics by big Ag, but Secretary Perdue justified rolling back protections with the callous claim that the farmers who can’t fend for themselves simply deserve to go out of business,” said Democracy Forward Counsel Karianne Jones. “The Trump Administration isn’t keeping its promises to America’s farmers, and we will hold them accountable.”
Appearing outside the courthouse to show their support for the petitioners and concern that the Trump Administration is actively refusing to look out for America’s farms was a group of independent farmers and rural advocates. Video from their rally can be viewed here.
The suit, Organization for Competitive Markets et al. v. USDA, was filed in December of 2017.
Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is a national membership-based research and advocacy organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade in America’s food and agricultural sectors.
Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.