Senate: Stand with Poultry Farmers, Not Greedy Corporations
This petition had 102,297 supporters
I’m a West Virginia poultry farmer, and I’m asking for your help. I recently went public about problems in the poultry industry such as diseased birds and genetic deformities. My story was featured in the New York Times. But I took a major risk in coming forward: most farmers in my situation are afraid to speak out against injustices and company wrongdoing because the poultry industry and its lobby are so powerful. Help me keep the poultry industry honest and make it possible for farmers like me to do their jobs. Tell the Senate to support farmer safeguards under USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA).
GIPSA gives poultry farmers support to gain basic protections—like making it illegal for companies to retaliate against us, and giving us guaranteed access to a jury trial if we have grievances. Unfortunately the House, through backdoor efforts, passed a budget that includes an obstructive rider; and that rider defunds GIPSA. We can’t let the rider into the Senate, too.
I’ve been a contract chicken grower for 10 years with Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the largest chicken companies in the U.S. The company painted a rosy picture about contract growing, so I bought chicken houses using my family farm as collateral. Now, I am deeply in debt and I have to keep farming to stay afloat. If I go under, I lose it all. My inheritance and everything I own, gone. That’s what these contracts between farmers and the industry are; they’re like a lifetime of servitude.
Without GIPSA, poultry companies will continue to go unfettered making billions in profits while leaving farmers penniless. But it’s not just farmers who get hurt by these powerful companies – animals and consumers suffer too. If farmers can’t freely voice their opinions and can’t safely speak out without losing their livelihoods, then problems like diseased and sickly birds will go unaddressed.
The poultry industry will not change on its own – they’ve been doing business this way for 30 years. That is why we need the Senate to fund GIPSA, and to make sure no GIPSA riders get passed in the FY 2017 budget. Your signature will help equalize the power imbalance between growers and powerful chicken companies and their high-paid lobbyists.
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