FARM ACTION FOCUS: THANKS TO USDA, “NO ANTIBIOTICS, EVER” MEAT ACTUALLY MEANS “ANTIBIOTICS, SOMETIMES.”
This blog was jointly produced with Farm Forward and authored by Mike Callicrate: a Colorado rancher, rural advocate, and owner of Ranch Foods Direct.If you’ve ever perused the packaged meat aisle at your local grocery store, you’ve probably noticed the sea of labels with a variety of claims and definitions. You may have even made your selection based on these labels. Unfortunately, not all of them are truthful.Consolidated corporations like Tyson and Smithfield use misleading labels to sell their generic, industrially produced meat at a premium, while retail conglomerates and the USDA look the other way. According to recent research, antibiotic residues were discovered in beef labeled “raised without antibiotics” and Animal Welfare Certified™ by Global Animal Partnership (GAP).
Meat with GAP’s label can sell for 40% more than “conventional” meat, so customers are deceived into paying more for products that don’t align with their values. Shoppers can’t support farms that meet their expectations if they can’t distinguish between product labels. It’s time for the USDA to crack down on mislabeled meat. Learn more in our “News to Chew on” blog.
USDA FOLLOWS THROUGH ON DEBT PAYMENTS FOR UNDERSERVED FARMERS AND RANCHERS
The USDA moved forward with relief for distressed farmers, allocated by the Inflation Reduction Act. 11,000 farmers facing foreclosure immediately received relief from this program, and 2,100 more farmers who had debt remaining after farm foreclosure have had their debt collections ceased. This program is life-changing for more than 13,000 farmers, and the upcoming $500 million in payments for additional distressed borrowers is a great step. Rural Coalition, of which Farm Action is a member, released a statement commending the USDA for moving forward with this relief.
Last week, the Farm Action team was invited to brief the DOJ and USDA on necessary steps to create a fair food and farm system. Farm Action’s meeting with the DOJ centered on the abusive practices of the meatpacking industry against American farmers and ranchers.
We’re confident that the DOJ will bring abusive corporations to court once they have the facts they need to bring a case. If you have evidence of specific market harms, please contact us or submit your complaint on the new DOJ-USDA portal.
Meeting with several agencies at the USDA offered a chance to break down silos and urge staff to keep antitrust issues top of mind throughout their work. The Farm Action team was pleased with this opportunity to assist the agencies in understanding how their efforts can shape a better system for farmers and consumers.
UPCOMING EVENT: REGENERATE CONFERENCE November 2-4, 2022 | Denver, CO and Virtual
Farm Action’s Sarah Carden will discuss how Big Ag controls the narrative surrounding the agricultural policy debate, dooming any attempts to shift government support away from industrial agriculture and toward a more resilient and equitable system. Sarah will call out the hidden costs of industrial agriculture, dismantle industrial agriculture’s deceptive myths, and empower advocates to redesign the Farm Bill so that it is fair, resilient, and beneficial for our farmers, food system workers, and communities — not just the CEOs of multinational corporations.
BIG AG MYTHBUSTERS: IS INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE REALLY INEVITABLE?
We’ve been conditioned to believe that consolidated, industrialized agriculture is inevitable. This narrative has operated as a self-fulfilling prophecy, persuading decision-makers to support policies that entrench the consolidated status quo. However, our industrialized agricultural system didn’t happen organically — it is propped up by a vulnerable business model that has publicly failed, as we saw during the pandemic.
It owes its entire existence to individuals — at the USDA, in finance sectors, in Congress, and at the White House — who made intentional decisions to promote it as the future of agriculture. Fortunately, these decisions can be reversed.
The 2023 Farm Bill is our best opportunity to shift government support away from monoculture operations and industrialized practices and toward more regenerative forms of agriculture. Check out our Mythbuster blog to arm yourself with the facts and help us push back against the corporate-created myth that industrial agriculture is the only way our farm system can work.
Here’s what the Farm Action team has been reading:
The Revolving Door Project explains the lesser-discussed implications of Kroger’s proposed merger with Albertsons, which would consolidate ~13% of the national grocery market. The merger may negatively impact workers whose jobs could be on the line, consumers who might face further inflated food prices as competition decreases, and local grocers who can’t compete with retail conglomerates.
Marco Rubio’s petition to investigate claims that unfair Mexican produce imports are hurting U.S. produce farmers was rejected following pressure from commodity trade groups, reports AgriPulse. These trade groups rely on the animal feed and meat export industry, which is propped up by the Feed-Meat Complex, and they feared it would impact their export business.
Tyson has settled yet another price-fixing lawsuit for $10.5M, which is peanuts compared to their record $4B profit in 2022. The Washington State AG’s office asserts Tyson and 18 other poultry producers drove up chicken prices since 2008 — costing consumers millions in overpayments, The Seattle Times reports.
Bayer is partnering with Nori, a company that markets carbon offsets and pays farmers for using regenerative farming practices, generating crypto carbon credits. Acknowledging the perhaps paradoxical concept of a carbon removal cryptocurrency, given the carbon footprint of crypto mining, a spokesperson said carbon emissions from the technology “vary wildly” and added that its tokens will be carbon negative within 2022, reports Politico.
Written and edited by: Jessica Cusworth, Dee Laninga, Angela Huffman, and Joe Maxwell
Farm Action leverages its research, policy development, and advocacy campaigns to create a food and agriculture system that works for everyday people rather than a handful of powerful corporations. Our political partner organization, Farm Action Fund, is building the political muscle to take action in our state and federal capitols and at the ballot box.
Together, our two organizations represent a seamless chain of action from research and policy development, to the adoption of the policy through legislative action by elected officials who support our vision.