GAP’S Food Integrity Campaign Praises USDA for Common-Sense First Steps to Protect Contract Farmers
WASHINGTON – Today, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) released three highly anticipated Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules, two interim and one final, which are currently open for public comment. The proposed regulations seek to protect contract farmers throughout the country from undue harm caused by corporations that retain a controversial amount of influence over the farmers with whom they work.
GIPSA’s initial set of proposed rules was established in 2010 and included a much broader array of protections for farmers. Since then, political gridlock resulted in the annual addition of numerous riders from those opposed to these recommendations, effectively halting progress until now. The FY 2016 appropriations measure removed the “GIPSA rider” due to public pressure, allowing USDA Secretary Vilsack to push the three regulations through. Contract farmers will likely now receive “fair practice” protections from industry retaliation for speaking truthfully about food.
Amanda Hitt, Director of the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign (FIC), made the following statement in regard to the GIPSA rules:
“It’s been a long time since we have been in a position to praise the Department of Agriculture, but today, Secretary Vilsack got it right. We serve as legal counsel to several chicken farmers who have been abused by the contract growing system. The GIPSA rules that came out today are not only a welcome attempt to right a series of wrongs that heretofore have gone unchecked, but are also simple common sense.”
“These farmers didn’t make ‘bad deals’ and end up in tough times. They were lied to and manipulated by a corporate machine that has been using its political influence to profit at the peril of the American farmer. This is not a partisan issue; this is about putting limits on corporate greed. I hope that all can agree that something needs to be done and that these rules are an important first step.”
The Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign will continue to stand with these farmers and work with the new administration to protect them from unscrupulous practices by Big Agriculture.
For additional comment, or to speak to an FIC contract-farming client, please contact:
Andrew Harman – GAP Communications Director
202-457-0034 Ext. 156
The Food Integrity Campaign is a program of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, the organization’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.