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To: USDA, Congress

Stop corporate exploitation of family farmers

Let the USDA and Congress know you want them to quit listening to Big Agriculture lobbyists and keep fighting the good fight on behalf of all of us!

Why is this important?

My name is Rudy Howell, and I am a poultry farmer in North Carolina. My wife and I raised chickens for a major poultry company for over 25 years—that is, until they terminated me for telling the truth about how this industry hurts workers, animals, and the environment. Years of being a top producer and never having had a single disciplinary action against me, and still they sent me packing for speaking up about the consequences of corporate influence in the food industry.

Utterly discouraged by inaction from my company and regulators, I brought in videographers to discuss public health concerns, animal welfare, and unfair business practices I and my fellow farmers endured at the hands of poultry industry. It was shortly after the scenes from the video of my chicken house were published that I was given my walking papers.

Well, I am not about to stay quiet.

Currently, only a handful of corporations control our food from farm to fork. Over the past 50 years, fewer and fewer multinational agribusiness corporations have come to control more and more of our food system, shutting out local and family farmers in the process. With unchecked power, companies have standardized exploitative practices that are harmful to farmers, to rural communities, to the animals themselves and to our environment. But it doesn’t have to be this way!

I’m not the only farmer they did this to, and there are countless others too afraid to talk for fear the poultry companies will do them the same. This system pits farmer against farmer, with the lowest performing paying the bonus of the top performer. The system operates to keep farmers from talking with each other and sharing information. Their dark-money ties and big-shot lobbyists have done a hell of a job keeping farmers like me quiet and consumers like you blissfully unaware.

That’s why I was so pleased to see things finally starting to change earlier this summer in the antitrust Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy that President Biden signed, but the USDA and Congress must ensure that family farmers are part of the solution by updating the Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) to address the treatment of livestock and poultry farmers by meatpackers, swine contractors, and poultry companies. These reforms are long overdue, and it is critical that we move as expeditiously as possible to complete this rulemaking process.

Concentration of corporate power has contributed to a host of problems such as racial inequity, climate change, rural degradation, animal cruelty, and worker/farmer exploitation. Recently, the administration took an important first step in showing its commitment to increasing competition across the agriculture sector and rectifying the situation. The Department of Agriculture announced that it was going to improve the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect farmers of color from discrimination, assure that farmers can associate freely and that whistleblowers are protected from retaliation, and improve court access for farmers who wish to bring lawsuits against industry bad actors—but it must have congressional support to enact truly meaningful change.

When companies have this much power, they can cut corners and bend the rules in their favor, even at the expense of farmers, rural communities, workers, our environment, and consumers. In this David-and-Goliath dynamic, good people could lose everything if they speak out against unsafe practices, corruption, and injustice. For the safety and sustainability of our food system, we must break the culture of fear and retaliation in industrial agriculture. Farmers need a #FairShake. Sign my petition if you agree!

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Updates

2022-11-16 14:23:17 -0500

Dear Friends of Farmers!

You petitioned the USDA to prevent farmers like Rudy Howell from being fired for doing the right thing. Now, THE USDA NEEDS YOUR INPUT on its newest rule to stop discrimination and retaliation against whistleblower farmers like Rudy!

The hardworking truth telling farmers who put food on our tables need you to SUBMIT A COMMENT TO THE FEDERAL REGISTER. Please consider lending your voice to this important cause by December 2, 2022.

Learn more about the new rule and how to submit your comments here: https://foodwhistleblower.org/stop-farmer-retaliation/

Thanks for standing with us!

-Amanda

2022-08-31 16:54:07 -0400

We still need more signatures on this petition! It's not too late to let your voice be heard that you support fairness for farmers.

After you sign this petition, can you please share this petition with your friends and family? Simply click on the blue "share" buttons located further up.

If you'd like to read more about why we need to create a more even playing field for farmers check out our blog: https://foodwhistleblower.org/5-reasons-you-should-comment-on-the-packers-and-stockyards-act-rule/

2022-05-26 15:16:59 -0400

Here's a great update regarding an announcement today!

A new proposed rule under the Packers and Stockyards Act would require chicken companies to have more transparent contracts with their farmers.

We've been working for decades to bring farmers increased protections. Today is a win for transparency and accountability!

Read more about the announcement here: https://bit.ly/3LP3X5G

2022-03-24 16:56:44 -0400

"Superbug-Infected Chicken is Being Sold All Over the U.S."

Recently, Rudy Howell was interviewed in a recent VICE News article with this title and a video. Rudy is speaking up about this. The rise of superbugs is having bad consequences for humans. Rudy offers an insider perspective as a farmer on what's happening in our food system.

Read the article and watch the video here: https://foodwhistleblower.org/profile/rudy-howell/

2022-02-22 14:00:30 -0500

The time is now to sign! Please share this petition with your friends on social media as well!

Share on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FoodIntegrityCampaign/photos/a.389804454385249/5081945251837789

Share on Twitter: https://twitter.com/foodinteg/status/1481300263055020034?s=20&t=G2Pr7EZucyMT0oUMj412hA

Share on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CZNDJ50vEQx/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

2021-09-25 11:46:03 -0400

10,000 signatures reached

2021-09-22 18:17:58 -0400

Thank you for signing my petition: Stop corporate exploitation of family farmers.
It means so much to me and my wife to have your support on this issue. I am glad you agree, farmers deserve a #FairShake.

Here’s a recent update I’d like to share:
I took to the skies to deliver a 95-foot-tall and 875-foot-wide message to the chicken industry. Watch my short video to see my message and how I’m fighting back against corporate power: https://foodwhistleblower.org/campaign/corporate-accountability/

-Rudy Howell and Food Integrity Campaign

2021-09-18 17:09:26 -0400

5,000 signatures reached

2021-09-17 15:03:00 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2021-09-17 14:22:37 -0400

Watch the video featuring Rudy Howell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6ysGXdeDz0

2021-09-15 15:44:00 -0400

500 signatures reached

2021-09-14 11:46:55 -0400

100 signatures reached

2021-09-14 11:35:00 -0400

50 signatures reached

2021-09-14 11:29:43 -0400

25 signatures reached

2021-09-10 21:23:17 -0400

10 signatures reached