Lincoln, NE – Today, the Office of Management and Budget released USDA’s Farmer Fair Practices Rules – commonly called the “GIPSA” rules – regarding contracts between poultry companies and growers. The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) has been fighting for enforcement of GIPSA regulations since the USDA introduced rules in 2009, and looks forward to these newly released rules being enacted.
Speaking at USDA’s news conference, Mike Weaver, poultry grower and OCM President, offered the following statement:
“The Organization for Competitive Markets sees the GIPSA regulations as a step forward in protecting farmers against the imbalance of power which has been in the favor of the poultry companies, leaving contract poultry growers as mere serfs for some of the world’s largest multi-national food corporations and industrial factory farm interests. We call on everyone to make comments and urge both the Obama and Trump administrations to finalize these rules.”
USDA released three rules: one interim final rule and two proposed rules.
1. The interim final rule, Clarification of Scope, will clarify the position of the Department of Agriculture that it is not necessary in all cases for the contract grower to demonstrate harm or likely harm to competition in order to establish a violation of the rule.
2. Proposed rule, Unfair Practices and Undue Preferences in Violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act, will establish a list of practices that violate the rule and establish criteria that GIPSA will consider when determining whether a packer, swine contractor, or poultry integrator has engaged in conduct or action that violates the rule.
3. Proposed rule, Poultry Grower Ranking Systems, establishes criteria that GIPSA may consider when determining whether a company has used a poultry grower ranking system to compensate a poultry grower in an unfair, unjustly discriminatory, or deceptive manner, or in a way that gives an undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.
These rules have been a long time in coming, as they were initiated in the 2008 Farm Bill. OCM has been pushing for this day for almost a decade. And the fight is not over; family farmers and consumers who support family farmers must provide their comments and show support for these critical protections once they are released in the Federal Register.
For more information on the GIPSA Farmer Fair Practices Rules, visit competitivemarkets.com/gipsa.