Washington, D.C. — Today a group of independent hog farmers sent a letter to Congressional Agriculture Committee leadership in opposition to the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression (EATS) Act (S.2019 and H.R.4417). The farmers urged lawmakers to oppose the EATS Act’s inclusion in the upcoming farm bill, as it would “usurp state and local sovereignty and…decimate market opportunities for independent farmers only to benefit a handful of corporations.”
The letter describes efforts the farmers have undertaken “to meet new production standards and fulfill consumer demand” in markets including California, where voters recently passed Proposition 12, a law banning the sale of pork produced with gestation crates. Prop 12 opens a market opportunity for these farmers to distinguish their products and “remain on the land, providing food to the nation and economic resilience to our communities.”
If the EATS Act were included in the farm bill, states and local governments would be blocked from passing agricultural policies, “[posing] a direct threat to existing and future laws that provide critical market opportunities for small and independent farmers to compete in today’s highly concentrated markets.”
“It’s tough for family farmers to compete against monopolies like Smithfield,” said Steve Maxwell, Missouri farmer and spokesperson for the hog farmers. “Our pigs lead healthier lives than theirs, but we weren’t always able to communicate that to consumers. The voters who overwhelmingly passed Prop 12 gave farmers like us an opportunity to compete with the monopolies on more equal footing, and keep doing what we do best: produce nutritious, high-quality pork.”
“The EATS Act is an attack on independent farmers and rural communities across the nation. Congress must reject EATS and anything that looks like it,” said Joe Maxwell, Steve Maxwell’s brother and the president of Farm Action Fund. “Prop 12 does not dictate how any hog farmer in any other state has to raise their hogs; it simply says if you want to sell your pork in California then you need to raise your hogs according to Prop 12. I think states should have the right to set food health and welfare standards.”
In August, Farm Action Fund became a founding steering committee member of a new coalition, now 108 members strong, to Defeat EATS.