FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 15, 2021
New Video Showcases Contributions of Agriculture Whistleblowers
WASHINGTON – Food Integrity Campaign (FIC) commends the White House on acting in response to decades of outcry from farmer whistleblowers and advocates regarding retaliation and deceptive, abusive practices in the meat industry.
On July 9, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) directing federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), to take action on 72 different policy initiatives to promote fair and competitive markets. Included in the EO is language directing USDA to publish a package of three Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) regulations, to update and complete the work that President Obama started in 2010 through the Farmer Fair Practices rules.
Among several demands to improve the industry, the Executive Order calls on USDA to “[adopt], to the greatest extent possible and as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, appropriate anti-retaliation protections, so that farmers may assert their rights without fear of retribution.”
Originally passed by Congress in 1921, the PSA was intended to curb abusive and anti-competitive practices in the meat industry. Despite the existence of this law, over the decades industrialized meat and poultry has become increasingly concentrated, with the top four firms in each sector controlling the vast majority of the market. Wielding this unchallenged market power, companies have standardized abusive and exploitative practices including unfair contracts, deceptive pay schemes for farmers, and inhumane working conditions in processing plants.
FIC whistleblowers have repeatedly experienced retaliation from big companies after risking it all to bring their truth to the public. The need for decisive action against retaliatory practices is as urgent as it was when the PSA was originally passed in 1921. Food Integrity Campaign is marking this 100-year anniversary of the original Packers and Stockyards Act with the release of a video that asks, ‘over a century how much has really changed?’
FIC Director, Amanda Hitt, commented:
“Corporations have as much unchecked power today, if not more, than they did in 1921.The Executive Order not only offers robust support for the process of whistleblowing in agriculture, but also acknowledges the concerns of truth-telling farmers who have bravely come forward despite industry-wide retaliation .”
FIC will continue to work alongside our partners and farmer advocates to ensure that this rulemaking effort effectively results in increased protections for farmer whistleblowers, improving transparency and competition in industrialized meat and poultry production.