Farm Aid's Nelson, Mellencamp, Young and Matthews Urge DOJ and USDA to Enforce Fair Competition in Nation's Agricultural Markets

Family Farmers Impacted by Corporate Concentration Demand Immediate Action to Level Agricultural Playing Field

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Farm Aid Board of Directors Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack encouraging them to take swift action to ensure fairness and competition in the agricultural sector. Ensuring fair markets in agriculture will create jobs and drastically change the landscape of our country and our food system for the benefit of not just farmers, but everyone who eats.

"Since Farm Aid started in 1985, our hotline has answered calls from farmers and ranchers struggling to stay on their land due to the growth of corporate concentration. Each day that goes by without antitrust enforcement results in the increased loss of America's greatest asset — family farmers," said Farm Aid President Willie Nelson. "Family farmers are the backbone of our nation's economy and are crucial to rebuilding it, but to do so they need fair markets."

Last year, The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) made history by holding a series of landmark workshops dedicated to exploring issues of corporate concentration, antitrust violations and competition in agriculture. From Ankeny, Iowa, to Washington, D.C., Farm Aid was present at each of the six workshops and heard firsthand the experiences of America's producers who are struggling to compete in agricultural markets dominated by corporate power.

American agriculture is extremely concentrated, giving just a handful of corporations control over U.S. food production and consumption. As a result, crop farmers have been persistently confronted with limited options for seed and increasingly high production costs; livestock producers have struggled with low prices and too few buyers; and poultry farmers face intimidation and unfair contracts. This lack of fairness has resulted in hundreds of thousands of independent family farmers being forced off the land, with negative impacts on rural economies, public health and our environment.

"Competition must be reintroduced into our agricultural markets to reverse the devastating effects that corporate concentration has caused," said Nelson. "Thousands of farmers and ranchers put their livelihoods on the line to share their concerns and experiences at the DOJ and USDA workshops; action is long overdue. Farmer livelihoods and the integrity of our food system depend on immediate action."

The USDA could take action right now by finalizing their proposed Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rule, which would enact protections and ensure fair markets for livestock farmers and ranchers. The rule, proposed in 2010, has been blocked for over a year by the lobbying efforts of the largest, most powerful corporations in the meatpacking industry.  

To read the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack sent by Farm Aid Board of Directors Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews, please visit http://farmaid.org/DOJUSDA.

Farm Aid's mission is to build a vibrant, family farm-centered system of agriculture in America. Farm Aid artists and board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews host the annual concert to raise funds to support Farm Aid's work with family farmers and to inspire people to choose family farm food. Since 1985, Farm Aid, with the support of the artists who contribute their performances each year, has raised more than $39 million to support programs that help farmers thrive, expand the reach of the Good Food Movement, take action to change the dominant system of industrial agriculture, and promote food from family farms. For more information, visit www.farmaid.org.

SOURCE Farm Aid



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