LINCOLN, NE. In response to the proposed construction of a Costco-owned chicken processing plant in Nebraska, two national experts on poultry contracts and the poultry industry will make presentations and answer questions from participants at four upcoming area informational meetings scheduled for June 20-21-22-23.
Mike Weaver, a long time poultry contract grower and cattle producer from Fort Seybert, W. Va., serves as President of the Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias. He is also on the OCM (Organization for Competitive Markets) Board of Directors. Mike’s years of experience as a grower make him an expert in identifying contract problem areas to be improved or avoided.
Lynn Hayes, Senior Attorney and Program Director of the Farmers Legal Action Group, Inc., has many years of experience working with poultry producers and the issues they experience with their contracts. She is a nationally known and respected expert on poultry contracts.
All four meetings are free and open to the public, and will serve food. Please RSVP to (402) 936-4870.
The four meeting time and locations are:
12:00 to 2:00 PM Monday, June 20th at Nielsen Community Center, 200 Anna Stalp Ave., West Point
12:00 to 2:00 PM Tuesday, June 21st at Columbus Library, 2504 14th St., Columbus
7:00 to 9:00 PM Wednesday, June 22nd at Saunders County Historical Society, 240 N. Walnut St., Wahoo
7:00 to 9:00 PM Thursday, June 23rd Arlington Multipurpose Senior Center, 305 N. 3rd St., Arlington
The series of meetings are being co-sponsored and financed by a combination of national, state, and local organizations: OCM (Organization for Competitive Markets), Farm Aid, Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation, Nebraska Communities United, and GC Resolve.
“The time to fully understand the binding provisions of the proposed contracts is before you sign, not after you commit for 15 years,” said Mike Callicrate, OCM President. “We hope farmers take advantage of the expertise these national experts will be sharing.”
“Through our farmer hotline, Farm Aid knows first-hand the disastrous consequences of abusive poultry contracts. The poultry industry has worked to the benefit of poultry integrators, at the expense of producers, workers and communities,” said Farm Aid Executive Director Carolyn Mugar. “Unless farmers have more power in the relationship with integrators and unless they have fair contracts that establish and protect their rights, the sad result will be more farms lost. Nebraska farmers and Costco have an opportunity to lead the way to much needed improvements in the contract poultry industry. The relationship between integrators and farmers is in desperate need of balance.”
“The problems with poultry contracts are well known and longstanding. Farmers Union, OCM and others successfully got USDA GIPSA poultry contract reforms included in the 2008 Farm Bill. The reforms designed to address abusive and unfair market practices including poultry processor retaliation against poultry producers in 2008 are yet to be implemented by USDA. Tragically, poultry processors continue to flex their political muscle in Congress to get riders attached in Appropriations Committees preventing USDA funding from implementing the law of the land. That is a disgrace,” said Nebraska Farmers Union President and OCM Vice President John Hansen. “The industry standard is mighty low and one-sided.”
“We thank Farm Aid, Nebraska Farmers Union Foundation, and OCM for their financial support, and all the organizations that have been willing to partner with us to make this set of outstanding meetings possible. We hope farmers attend and benefit from these meetings,” said Randy Ruppert, a local leader with Nebraska Communities United.