As Senators debate the 2013 Farm Bill on the floor, cattle group R-CALF USA said this week it has signed a letter with more than 30 other groups in support of four amendments related to livestock production.
R-CALF and the other signatories on the letter said the Farm Bill represents an opportunity for Congress to take steps to reverse the dwindling number of livestock operations by protecting "independent livestock and poultry producers from unfair and deceptive contract and marketing practices."
The groups support the following amendments to the Senate Farm Bill:
Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio #969: To establish a special counsel on agricultural competition, which would coordinate and oversee competition and antitrust enforcement activities among the federal agencies.
Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. #971: To require the USDA Secretary to collect information on the consolidation levels throughout the food and farm sector and issue an annual report on agriculture consolidation.
Sens. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Jon Tester, D-Mont. #982: To prohibit the use of anti-competitive forward contracts, otherwise known as "un-priced formula contracts."
Sens. John Rockefeller, D-W.V., Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Tim Johnson, D-S.D. #993: To make it unlawful for companies "to retaliate against farmers for exercising their legal rights, such as talking to federal agency officials or members of Congress about their farming operations and contracts."
Specifically, the groups said the Enzi amendment requires all marketing arrangements to use firm, fixed base prices for marketing arrangements to ensure that cattle producers are fairly paid for their livestock.
The groups wrote that since enactment of the 2008 Farm Bill, the United States has lost 4% of its beef cattle operations and 7% of its hog operations.
The Senate Thursday wrapped up deliberation on the bill, but will return June 3 to continue considering amendments.
The 34 groups that joined in the letter of support for the four livestock competition amendments include: Alabama Contact Poultry Growers Association, Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform, Cattle Producers of Louisiana, Cattle Producers of Washington, Center for Rural Affairs, Contract Poultry Growers of the Virginias, Dakota Rural Action, Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, Food & Water Watch, Hmong National Development, Inc., Independent Beef Association of North Dakota, Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming, Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Kansas Cattlemen's Association, Land Stewardship Project, Missouri's Best Beef Co-Operative, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Murray County, Oklahoma Independent Cattlemen, National Catholic Rural Life Conference, National Family Farm Coalition, National Farmers Union, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, Nevada Live Stock Association, Northern Plains Resource Council, Northern Wisconsin Beef Producers, Organization for Competitive Markets, Poultry Partners (Arkansas), Powder River Basin Resource Council, R-CALF USA, Rural Advancement Foundation International—USA, Rural Coalition, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, and Western Organization of Resource Councils.