Executive Order a “Monumental Step” Towards Fairer Economy, According to National Farmers Union
WASHINGTON – With nearly every industry enduring crushing levels of corporate power, President Joe Biden today signed an executive order aimed at promoting competition and fairness throughout the economy.
The order includes 72 directives that will be carried out by 12 federal agencies, many of which target the agricultural sector. For instance, it advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to offer livestock farmers greater recourse against corporations when they are treated unfairly, restructure the inequitable system that determines poultry growers’ wages, and prevent corporations from retaliating against farmers who speak out about discriminatory conduct. It would also give farmers the right to repair their equipment – which many companies currently restrict – limit “Product of USA” labels strictly to meat raised domestically, and support the development of local and regional food systems.
Farmers and rural residents would benefit from several other provisions that would make rail shipping rates more competitive, stem consolidation among rural hospitals, and encourage more choices in banking and credit in rural communities.
Since it was founded in 1902, National Farmers Union (NFU) has been dedicated to protecting farmers from corporate abuse, an endeavor that has only intensified in recent decades in response to a wave of mergers and acquisitions. In a statement, Rob Larew, the organization’s president, lauded the administration for taking this monumental step towards protecting farmers from anticompetitive practices.
“Over the last 50 years, we’ve seen dramatic consolidation in the agriculture industry, with just a handful of corporations seizing control over each link in the food supply chain. It’s no coincidence that this has coincided with a slew of problems for farmers: low prices, little bargaining power, few choices, misleading labels, and the inability to repair their own equipment, among other headaches. If that weren’t enough, extreme concentration has also made our food system extremely vulnerable to disruptions and bottlenecks, as has become abundantly clear recently in the wake of extreme weather events, the pandemic, and cyberattacks.
“After suffering corporate abuse for so many years, it is reassuring that farmers may finally get a level playing field. This executive order will offer them more autonomy in their relationships with corporations, protections from mistreatment, fairer and more accurate labeling, the right to repair their machinery, and more robust local markets – which, taken together, will go a long way towards building the resilient, equitable food system that farmers and consumers deserve. We urge the administration to swiftly implement these changes and follow up with strong antitrust enforcement.”