Big Agriculture Companies Look to Congress for Help against Smaller Producers

Monday, August 02, 2010

Unhappy with a plan by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to level the playing field between big agricultural companies and smaller farmers and ranchers, agribusiness is lobbying hard for Democrats and Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee to detail the proposed changes. The reforms, developed by the USDA’s Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration, are designed to help small and mid-sized farms that have struggled to stay in business because of agribusiness’s ability to leverage prices to its advantage.

 
The USDA wants to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to sue meatpackers for demanding “unfairly low prices.” Federal officials also want to “dictate how meatpackers buy cattle on the open market, and prohibit them from showing preference to big feedlots by offering them special incentives not available to smaller producers,” according to the Associated Press.
 
Big agriculture is shelling out large donations to lawmakers on the agriculture committee to win them to its side, including $236,500 from the poultry and egg industry and $281,611 from the livestock industry so far in 2010. Collectively, members of the House and Senate have taken in nearly $20 million in contributions this year from agribusiness, according to OpenSecrets.org.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
 
USDA Touts Tighter Meat Industry Antitrust Rules (by Christopher Leonard, Associated Press)

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