Yesterday, Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack calling for action--action that is a long time coming.
Back in 2010, when the U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture announced a series of joint workshops to examine issues of corporate concentration in agriculture, family farmers were hopeful that change would come. The workshops--five of them spread throughout the year, covering all aspects of agriculture from seeds, dairy, poultry and livestock, to price margins--were a unique opportunity to examine corporate concentration, a lack of competition and lax enforcement of antitrust rules in agriculture. It was a chance for farmers and eaters to share their experiences about how this concentration affects not just farmers, but also all of us who eat and our food system as a whole. Farmers traveled from all over to the workshops, leaving their farm work to others that day (and if you know farmers, you know they don't often do this!), because of the great potential of the workshops. In addition to lost work, time and travel expenses, many farmers faced intimidation and retaliation, especially those working within the contract poultry system.
The last workshop was held in Washington, D.C., on Dec 8, 2010. Today, on September 22, 2011, we still have not heard anything back from either agency about what they heard or what they plan to do about it.
The time for action is now! Family farmers deserve fair markets. Given fair markets, we keep our family farmers working, and put new farmers on the land. And that's what we need to do if we're going to produce good food for all of the people who need it. We're talking about jobs here--something our country needs more than anything right now. Fair markets in agriculture keep family farmers in jobs, create new farmer jobs, and increase the potential to create new jobs within the local and regional food systems these farmers are growing.
If you'd like to add your voice to the voices of Willie, John, Neil and Dave, please click here to send your letter to Attorney General Holder and Secretary Vilsack. Thanks for your support for fair markets, family farmers and a stronger America!