A Watershed Moment: Fair Farms Campaign

On the September 20th episode, we hear from Jane Wiedenbeck, Field Organizer for the West Michigan chapter of Food and Water Watch, as she tells us about the kickoff meeting for the Fair Farms Campaign.

The Fair Farms Campaign centers around the small and medium sized farm that is local and more able to be sustainable. Because these farms are smaller, they tend to have smaller herds of livestock. Their size make it easier to be organic and have free-range animals. They also have lower transportation costs as the farms are much closer to the market and consumer than larger corporate farms.

The rules in question were created to protect small and medium sized cattle, hog and chicken farmers, allowing them to compete with large factory farms. For example, if a smaller chicken farmer were to bring his livestock to a meat-packer, these laws would bar the intermediary from giving undue preference to larger producers. The price would stay the same no matter the size of the seller’s operation.

Originally passed in 1921, the GIPSA Rules (Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration) also known as the Fair Farms Bill, didn’t have the rules for law included until 2008. These rules have yet to be finalized, so they can be enforced by the USDA. They are currently up in the Senate, waiting for funding for finalization.

Food and Water Watch is launching the Fair Farms Campaign to convince Senator Debbie Stabenow to support these rules and stand up to big agribusiness and for local small and medium sized farmers.

“Supporting small and medium sized farms is a step in the right direction toward a more sustainable food system,”  says Wiedenbeck.”These rules allow local farms, traditionally the backbone of American agriculture, to be able to compete in today’s agricultural world. ”

The kickoff for the Fair Farms Campaign will be Wednesday, September 21st, from 7-8pm at WMEAC’s office (1007 Lake Drive). The public is invited to attend to enjoy light refreshments and find out more about the Fair Farm Rules. Anyone concerned about food policies and how they affect our community should attend.

Listen to the full interview here.

For more information about the Fair Farms Campaign and Food and Water Watch, please visit their website or contact Jane Wiedenbeck  at jwiedenbeck@fwwlocal.org.

“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life.  Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media  Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

0 replies
  1. Tom
    Tom says:

    Thank you, Food and Water Watch for all the support you have given to the GIPSA rules. Large meat packers are obtaining lower prices by cheating family farmers out of the market value of their products. Federal courts have ignored the USDA’s Amicus Briefs (legal briefs of support) to family farmers who have been and continue to be mistreated by corporate agriculture. The enforcement of these rules might make cheap food actually count more of the costs that it incurs instead of using those lower costs to compete with organic and more sustainable agriculture. Everything, unfortunately, seems to come down to economics. The more corporate agriculture has to pay for its own costs, the higher their products will cost and sustainable agriculture will become more competitive. The GIPSA rules are only the start in a long line of defenses that corporate interests have bought. The next step are the federal judges themselves who have made such poor legal decisions as to create the necessity of these GIPSA rules. Had they only read the USDA Amicus Briefs, they wouldn’t be put in the position of playing the trump card for corporate agriculture.again………. If we could only get Congress to stop selling their responsibilities in policy making we would have a much more sustainable food system.



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