Rally for Fair Farm Rules 4 p.m. Thursday at Calder Plaza

Rally for Fair Farm Rules
Calder Plaza, Grand Rapids, MI
4:10 p.m. Thurs. Nov. 3

On Thursday, Food & Water Watch urges people from Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids are gathering at Grand Rapids’ Calder Plaza to ask Senator Debbie Stabenow to support the Fair Farm Rules and Michigan’s small farmers. Stabenow, the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, has so far refused to take a stand on the issue despite the fact that over the past two months, community members in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo have gathered more than 2,500 postcards urging her to support the Fair Farm Rules.

The Fair Farm Rules prevent meatpackers from giving undue preference to large factory farms, which put small independent producers at an economic disadvantage. The new rules would:

  • Stop price premiums and secret preferential contracts granted to cattle and hog factory farms.
  • Prevent one buyer from representing multiple meatpackers at an auction. This practice effectively eliminates competitive bidding on livestock, which hurts small-scale producers.
  • Prohibit retaliation against poultry growers who speak out about abuses.
  • Protects poultry growers who make expensive upgrades and investments and prevents companies from requiring growers to make expensive upgrades to their facilities if they are in working order.

Michigan consumers and the environment lose out as small and midsize farmers are pushed out of business. We are left with fewer options for grass-fed and free range meat and poultry products as well as less access to meat, milk and eggs that are free of antibiotics and artificial hormones.

In addition, factory farming takes a terrible toll on Michigan’s environment and waterways. And, it’s only humane to agree that animals farmed for our meat, milk and eggs should be allowed to live lives free of the constant pain, darkness and social isolation that is the norm on large factory farms. As small farms disappear, so will humane conditions for a growing majority of our fellow creatures.

The 2008 Farm Bill included new reforms to protect small and midsize livestock farmers, but those reforms are being blocked by a handful of large companies that dominate the meat and poultry industries.

Over the past five years, nearly 27,000 midsize independent family farms have been driven out of business nationally. Those remaining are squeezed by a market that favors big agribusinesses.

In June, Senator Stabenow hosted a public hearing on the Farm Bill in East Lansing that mostly involved Michigan based agri-business and agri-business associations. These entities and the clients they represent have been the recipient of billions in subsidies in the past 15 years as has been well documented by theEnvironmental Working Group.

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