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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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ND makes the grade in a national report evaluating public school support; SCOTUS justices express free speech concerns about GOP-backed social media laws; NH "kids on campus" program boosts retention; proposed law bans hemp sales to Hoosiers younger than 21.

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The Supreme Court hears arguments on whether social media can restrict content. Biden advisors point to anti-democracy speeches at CPAC, and the President heads to the US-Mexico border appealing to voters on immigration and border issues.

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David meets Goliath in Idaho pesticide conflict, to win over Gen Z voters, candidates are encouraged to support renewable energy and rural America needs help from Congress to continue affordable internet programs.

USDA to Tighten Protections for Contract Farmers

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Friday, October 14, 2022   

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is finalizing rules aimed at increasing protections for contract farmers who grow the nation's poultry and cattle for giant meatpacking corporations.

Supporters of the changes said they will result in fairer pay for farmers and reduce deceptive and discriminatory industry practices, particularly against farmers of color.

Aaron Johnson, manager of the Challenging Corporate Power Program at the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, explained the rules involve updating transparency standards in the poultry industry and leveling the field for contract farmers to publicly advocate for better deals or speak out to the media on unfair practices.

"Most poultry growers, the vast majority of poultry growers, they don't own the chickens that are on their farm," Johnson explained. "Really, what the farmer is providing is the labor to take care of the chickens while they're on the farm."

Johnson pointed out livestock and poultry companies have a hard lobbying grip in Washington, noting a decade ago, the USDA attempted similar reforms but was blocked by Congress in finalizing or implementing them. Opponents of the new rules argued they could harm industry efforts to improve sustainability.

Johnson explains meatpacking corporations currently offer advantages to certain contract farmers over others, and with little oversight.

"The law is going to be updated to protect growers from deceptive contract terms, or from contracts that hide future provisions, like future requirements for upgrades."

He noted four mammoth corporations, JBS Foods, Marfrig, Seaboard and Tyson Foods, control 85% of all meatpacking operations in the U.S.

Disclosure: The Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Environmental Justice, Rural/Farming, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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