In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union has urged the Obama administration to stand up to corporate agriculture and implement the USDA packers and stockyards (GIPSA) rules. “The Packers and Stockyards Act was passed 80 years ago,” RMFU President Kent Peppler said, “and the regulations mandated by the 2008 Food and Farm Bill, which would control the virtually monopolistic power of industrial livestock operations, have been ‘reviewed’ for nearly two years. Meantime, family livestock operations are trying to stay afloat in a market that is notoriously controlled by a handful of multinational companies. Time has run out for a lot of my neighbors. It’s running out for local and natural meat providers. If these rules are not implemented, time will run out for the credibility of the Obama administration among small agricultural producers.”
In September, RMFU commended Colorado Senator Michael Bennet for addressing this issue with the administration. In a letter to the President, Sen. Bennet urged finalizing the rule published in the Federal Register more than a year ago. RMFU agrees with Bennet that we want “a fair and transparent market in which all livestock and poultry producers compete on a level playing field” and RMFU membership joins in his call to prioritize implementing the rule.
“This is not a political issue,” RMFU’s Peppler observed. “It’s a question of selling out another part of America’s struggling middle class, the independent ranchers whose operations are effectively being reduced to sharecroppers for corporations that own 80% of the meat produced in the U.S. Corporations are not people; they are machines that make money off the hard work of people producing our food, fuel, and fiber. Americans have made it clear that they don’t want industrial meat products if they can choose meat produced through ranching and animal husbandry. If the small rancher is not protected from the predatory practices of the big players in the livestock market, consumers won’t have that choice.”