World Farmers’ Congress Adopts Agriculture Concentration Remedies
Washington (June 8, 2004) – Farmers from 70 countries attending the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP) World Farmers’ Congress in Washington, D.C. last week adopted recommendations to stop the accelerated march toward a vertically and horizontally integrated agricultural production system. National Farmers Union was host to the World Farmers’ Congress last held in the United States in 1975.
Texas Farmers Union President, Wes Sims, also an executive board member of NFU said, “The inadequacy of current competition rules is one of the most pressing issues facing farmers across the globe.” “Independent agricultural producers cannot succeed without protection from unfair, anti-competitive practices” Sims said. This is evidenced by the sharp decline in the number of family farmers in the past decade and the increasing trend toward horizontal and vertical concentration in the agricultural and food sectors.
The Texas farm leader said, “He and other representatives of IFAP countries believe concentration in food productions, processing and retail could be turned around with enforcement of antitrust and competition laws, a strengthened regulatory system, increased protection of consumers and revitalization of independently owned business and competitive markets.” Specifically, the IFAP countries adopted resolutions to collect and publicize concentration information and require government anti-trust agencies to require economic impact statements of proposed mergers and joint ventures. IFAP also supports establishing a lever of concentration that triggers a presumption of a violation of antitrust law to make it easier for enforcement agencies to prevent high levels of concentration.
The farmers passed resolutions to limit packer ownership of livestock and control of production by non-farmer-owned corporations and supported family farm contract producers and policies that enhance fairness and provide producers protection in their agricultural production contracts. It also supports family farm contract producers.
French farmer and IFAP Executive Committee member Luc Guyau said, “Another solution was to strengthen and adapt farmer’s economic organization.” The IFAP farmers adopted several recommendations relating to economic producer organizations (EPO). These include providing special status, tax regulation, training, access to funding, research and development, appropriate legislative modifications with farmer input, and access to fundamental services in rural areas for EPO’s. IFAP also propose further development of farmer owned cooperatives and marketing boards.
IFAP is the worlds farmers’ organization representing over 500 million farm families grouped in 100 national organizations in 70 countries. It is a global network in which farmers from industrialized and developing countries exchange concerns and set common priorities. IFAP advocates farmers’ interests at the international level since 1946 and has General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
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