DAVIDSONVILLE, MD. (August 25, 2022) — As contract livestock farming opportunities have risen, Maryland Farm Bureau echoes the American Farm Bureau in seeking more transparency on what poultry growers can expect when contracting with a poultry integrator. MDFB submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in light of its proposed rulemaking within the Packers and Stockyards Act on revising the list of disclosures and information that live poultry dealers must furnish to poultry growers upon making agreements.
“We appreciate the USDA’s efforts on increasing transparency in poultry contract farming,” said Wayne Stafford, MDFB president. “The Maryland Farm Bureau believes these revisions can help growers make the best decision for their farm’s resources.”
Published in the Federal Register on June 8, MDFB supports the proposed transparency rules such as financial disclosures and facility modification disclosures, and minimum stocking density in order for growers to make an informed decision before contracting with integrators. MDFB also supports the proposed rules for those involved in integrators’ tournament systems, which can give more business to farms who meet higher production and other goals.
Poultry farmers need transparency on guaranteed flock numbers, past revenues of the integrator’s farmers – per facility capacity, and disclosure of recent litigation against the integrator.
Additionally, growers in the tournament system need disclosure including input distribution, privacy-protected rankings, and breeder/health, settlement, and regional information, which should be provided on the settlement sheet. Further, the integrators should provide reason for canceled flocks.
Some pitfalls that growers were not aware of ahead of time in the past were not only the requirement of facility modifications, but the expectation of purchasing certain brands of equipment when — sometimes seemingly arbitrary — modifications were required. This, and other lack of disclosure in contracts, led to great expense and disrupted production for the growers.
In order for any adopted rules to stay relevant, MDFB recommends this to be an interim final rule, not a final rule, and encourage the Ag Marketing Service to be open-minded to other agencies within the Department for their successful livestock farming programs and data.
“The Maryland Farm Bureau appreciates the work the Department has done in crafting a proposal that will increase transparency within the highly integrated poultry industry. We submit these comments on behalf of our poultry growing-members and look forward to a continued dialogue with the Department on this issue,” said Stafford.
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MARYLAND FARM BUREAU®, INC. is a 501(c)(5) federation that serves as the united voice of Maryland farm families. Our organizational strength comes from the active participation of over 10,000 individual and family members who belong to the state’s 23 local county Farm Bureau organizations. Since 1915, Maryland Farm Bureau has been committed to protecting and growing agriculture and preserving rural life. Maryland Farm Bureau is a proud member of the American Farm Bureau® Federation. For more information, visit www.mdfarmbureau.com
Director of Media Relations, Maryland Farm Bureau, Inc.
573-268-6853 | amber@TsnCommunications.com