A letter from ag-state senators urges the Department of Agriculture to provide protections for livestock and poultry farmers against unfair and deceptive practices by meatpackers. Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and John Tester of Montana, calling themselves the only farmers in the Senate, outlined key to help farmers compete with large corporations.
The comments come as USDA begins to clarify rules within the Packers and Stockyards Act. Grassley and Tester are requesting USDA protect farmers from retaliation when they express concerns to USDA or Congress, clarify that the law does not require a demonstration of harm across the entire industry, defend small producers against preferential marketing agreements for large livestock producers, and provide security and transparency within the system used to pay poultry growers.
The 2018 Farm Bill required USDA to issue regulations clarifying aspects of the Packers and Stockyards Act, providing protections to family farms. This spring, USDA announced that it would be clarifying the rules in the fall, though no other announcements have since been made.