I recently had a contract chicken farmer, Craig Watts, ask me for advice after hearing the news that our illustrious politicians had delivered a crippling blow to farmers and consumers.
Specifically, the farmer was referring to the gutting of the USDA Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards (GIPSA) Final Rule which would have dealt with many of the abuses contract farmers face. Known as the GIPSA Rule and something that I’ve opined about many times, House Republicans and Mealy Mouthed Democrats allowed language in a budget bill that defunded the GIPSA Rule which would have provided “commonsense protections that allow small livestock producers to compete and check the abusive practices of the poultry industry” says Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food and Water Watch. House Republicans Drive More Nails Into Livestock Rule Coffin
I had no good advice to give Craig and I fear for his livelihood. He has been one of the most outspoken contract chicken farmers about the GIPSA Rule and took a public stand against the abusive practices towards farmers in the poultry industry. Although no laughing matter, my first thought was to tell Craig to cover his head and duck.
On a serious note I told him to prepare for contract termination because he will be retaliated against for speaking out. One way or another, Craig will be paid back and or illustrious politicians, who claim that they support the farmer, have assured that he has no protection. Over the past twenty years or more, I’ve seen this happen many times to farmers.
It further worries me that farmers were led down a path of destruction by our government. I’ve had my doubts from the very beginning of the latest attempt by farmers to reign in Big Ag from the monopolization of food production and the anti-competitive nature of contract farming.
USDA and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) held field hearings all over the country and encouraged farmers to speak out. Farmers believed in this process especially since they had the DOJ covering their backs……. many spoke. Even still, with the mighty DOJ at their backs, some farmers gave private testimony. A statement in itself about the fear farmer’s harbor!
When USDA finally proposed the GIPSA Rule and opened a public comment period over 60,000 comments were received by the agency and the majority was in favor of the rule. At this juncture of the game some farmers were still fearful and submitted unsigned comments so that they could not be identified by Big Ag.
Farmers have written letters and spoken in person to USDA and their illustrious politicians who supposedly represent them and have put their selves in a precarious position. Anyone who really knows me also knows that I hold no faith in our elected officials whether they are Republican, Democrat, Tea Partier, or Independent.
My cynical view overwhelms me when I travel to our Nation’s Capital because I get the feeling that our illustrious politicians are doing nothing more than paying “lip service” to their constituents. They tell you what you want to hear and send you on your way. They then turn around and “toe the line” from wherever the most power, money, and influence come from. It’s cronyism at its best!
Personally, I have no faith in our government to do what is right for the majority. I don’t think that I’m alone in my cynicism about our elected officials. On occasion I think there are some people who run for public office with good intentions toward doing the right thing. When they reach the destination of being elected to office they quickly learn that their ideals have no place in the political machine that runs our country.
In this particular situation, the GIPSA Rule, is a really bad joke that has been played on farmers and Big Ag is laughing all the way to the bank! I hope our illustrious politicians and government agencies feel good about selling out the American farmer and leaving them to suffer the tyranny of Big Ag.