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Stand up for family farmers today! Call the Senate.

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by Marcia Ishii-Eiteman

Father and son working on farmEarlier this summer, my ten-year old called the White House to ask President Obama to “please support fair farm rules for family farmers and ranchers.” It was a mouthful, but he added “I’m talking about GIPSA” – to be sure there would be no mistake.

Today we are at another crucial moment in this campaign to protect American farmers from the worst sort of corporate abuses that go on every day in this country. And we need your help.

Senators are debating the Agricultural Appropriations bill right now and could vote on it as soon as Thursday.

Earlier, the House of Representatives attached a provision to the bill that essentially prohibited USDA from implementing the much-needed GIPSA rule (more from the Western Organization of Resource Councils here). We can't let that happen in the Senate. We need this fair farming rule: if we want to be able to buy food from hardworking family farmers, rather than from giant corporations, then we need to stand up for those farmers now. 

Want fair? Get GIPSA!

The GIPSA rule creates fair market, anti-monopoly rules to protect family ranchers, hog and poultry growers from corporate abuse. The rule is designed to prevent deceptive and unfair trade practices by the meat-packing industry and make it illegal for packers and slaughter houses to unfairly discriminate against independent farmers.

Call your senators today - ask them to keep fair farming rules (GIPSA) on track

It should be a no-brainer for the White House and Congress to support implementation of this rule. But giant agribusiness interests have been pressuring Obama, USDA Secretary Vilsack, the House and now the Senate to block it. Unbelievably, many Senators are still on the fence, confused by the agribusiness lobby’s claims that fair contracts for small and mid-sized farmers would be costly. The reverse is true.

As Food Democracy Now! explains,

The loss of family farmers and farmer profits and the placing of production into the hands of fewer producers and packers has gutted rural America of one of its best avenues for job creation while simultaneously stalling its chance for long-term economic viability. If you eat, you better get GIPSA.

If we want an economically robust and fair food and farming system, we better get GIPSA.

Take action » Call both your senators today and ask them to oppose any amendments to stop or delay the GIPSA rule.  

You can call your senators directly at (202) 224-3121.  Ask to speak with the agriculture legislative assistant. Here is a sample message to use:

I am a constituent who strongly supports the proposed USDA rule on poultry and livestock.  The rule will level the playing field for growers and correct many of the abuses that they are facing.  Will the Senator stand up for farmers and oppose any amendments to the appropriations bill that would stop or delay USDA from writing a final rule?  Please call me at ______ to let me know where the Senator stands on this important issue.

Rural Advancement Foundation International is keeping a record of Senator replies, so please email the results of your call to Becky Ceartas.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog

is PAN's Senior Scientist and Director of the Grassroots Science Program. Follow @MarciaIshii

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