Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Farm Aid: They Don't want Farmers telling the Truth

I got this newsletter from Hilde Shelley from Farm Aid:

On May 21st, the Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Agriculture will hold a workshop to investigate the abusive state of contract poultry farming in the United States. Well, nobody knows more about the problem than family farmers. But the DOJ and USDA are having a hard time finding farmers who are willing to speak out. Why? Farmers are scared of retaliation by the big poultry companies, and for good reason.

They need us to stand up for them now. Tell the DOJ and USDA to protect family farmers and stop the abusive practices of big poultry companies.

Nowadays more than 90% of poultry is raised under a contract situation, meaning that farmers sign a contract with a big poultry company. And for a lot of family farmers, there's no choice – they are forced to sign whatever contract the company comes up with if they want to stay on the land and keep farming. The company controls the whole process from chick to market, and requires the farmer to build particular kinds of barns and use specific practices in raising the birds, all at the farmers' expense.

The company has all the control. The farmer has none. And that means they're left wide open to abuse.

We know why these farmers are scared of retaliation from these companies. We’ve heard the stories about what happens when a farmer speaks up about the unfair, one-sided and abusive contracts:

Poultry companies provide poor quality feed or sick chicks that die within days
The companies halt or delay the delivery of new birds
Farmers are required to make expensive farm upgrades without fair compensation
Farmers' contracts are dropped without warning
Farm Aid can tell the DOJ and USDA the truth because we’ve heard the stories from farmers themselves, and we want you to join us.

Send a letter to the DOJ and USDA. Tell them we need to overhaul the poultry system and ensure fair contracts and a living wage for our nation’s poultry growers. Without fair contracts, these farmers are trapped in an abusive system that they have little control over. We need to restore fairness in poultry farming, and you can help.

The big poultry companies can try to silence farmers with their intimidation tactics. But they can't keep Farm Aid quiet, and they can't stop you and me from standing up for family farmers. Let's show them what we can do.

It's sbout time!

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