Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gobble, gobble, go the turkeys, and the firms who sell them, as USDA withdraws Obama-era rules

Turkey growers posed with the president
as he "pardoned" two turkeys Tuesday.
Thanksgiving is a day for turkey, but the Trump administration does not appear to be one for small turkey farmers, Christine Haughney reports for Politico.

The Agriculture Department has killed "Obama-era rules that had yet to take effect [that] would have given smaller farmers more power to set the terms of their deals with massive meat companies, empowering the growers to sue and better define abusive practices by processors and distributors under federal law," Haughney writes. "Major agribusinesses like Cargill and Butterball fought the rules, saying they would lead to endless litigation between farmers and global food companies."

Now some companies are pressing their advantage. "In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, some turkey farmers said the processing and distribution companies already have been setting tougher terms. Farmers who produce birds for Plainville received letters in October amending their contracts by cutting performance incentives and demanding that they invest in equipment upgrades. They blame the Trump administration."

However, "distributors and large poultry growers" support the decision to withdraw the rules developed by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration. The regulations "would have opened the floodgates to frivolous and costly litigation," said Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, told Haughney.

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