Hearing: Reps. Kaptur, Pingree host briefing on Contract Retaliation Protection for Farmers

Virginia poultry grower, Mike Weaver, explains why rules are important to contract growers.

Reps. Kaptur, Pingree host briefing on Contract Retaliation Protection for Farmers

Streamed live on Jun 3, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Representatives Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will co-host a Congressional briefing on Wednesday to discuss provisions of a USDA proposed rule to protect farmers from industry retaliation and past efforts to block the rule from being implemented. The panel includes:

– Christopher Leonard, former Associated Press reporter and author of “The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business”
– Benny Bunting, Poultry Farmer and Lead Farm Advocate for The Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)
– Mike Weaver, Chicken Farmer in Fort Seybert, West Virginia and President of the Contract Poultry Growers of the Virginias
– Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union (Moderator)

Background: For years, a handful of companies have used their market dominance to control the poultry industry at the expense of independent contract farmers. Congress responded to this situation by directing USDA to write and implement regulations as part of the 2008 Farm Bill to protect contract farmers from retaliation and promote competition between meat processors. USDA proposed a strong rule but to-date only a few of its provisions have been implemented. Since 2011, USDA has been restricted from applying the bulk of these rules, especially the provisions that protect farmers’ basic rights including their right to free speech.

This issue has received widespread national attention in recent weeks and was featured in a segment on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” hosted by John Oliver. Wednesday’s briefing will provide primary source perspectives and insight into the circumstances faced by contract poultry farmers in the U.S. as well as actions available to Congress and the public leading up to the introduction and mark-up of the FY 2016 Agriculture Appropriations bill. See Video