More stress before slaughter makes animals more susceptible to being the source of foodborne illnesses and some say that is a problem particular to confined-animal operations and the industrial food chain.


Food safety appears to be at least a secondary consideration for those concerned about consolidation in the agriculture and food industries.

Following five workshops held last year to examine antitrust issues in agriculture, more than 160 of the participating organizations now want action.

So they’ve signed a joint letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Attorney General Eric Holder asking USDA and the Justice Department to reveal what will happen next.

The organizations said more than a year has passed since the first antitrust hearing was held on March 12, 2010.  “The American public now awaits the next steps the Departments will take to address excessive corporate concentration in the U.S. food and agriculture sectors and its devastating impacts on American lives and livelihoods,” the groups wrote in the letter.

Calling the antitrust meetings an “historic opportunity,” they said “through this process hundreds of Americans — farmers, ranchers, workers and consumers — have shared stories of their struggles to cope with the unprecedented levels of concentration in the food and agricultural industries. Hundreds of thousands more showed their concern by submitting formal comments and petitions for the record.”

The groups want USDA and DOJ to issue a final report on the hearings.

“This report should include an analysis of the scope, causes and nature of the problems and identify changes necessary to begin to address current trends in agricultural consolidation, and develop appropriate antitrust approaches to curtail monopoly or monopoly power of the seed, beef, hog, poultry and dairy industries and end the harmful impacts of unrestrained corporate power on U.S. food and farming,” their letter said.

“Our rural communities, our food supply and the fate of a major portion of the American economy depend on us fixing this problem.”

If USDA, however, puts market restraints on the sale of animals for slaughter, it could cause more transfers and more stress.  Those concerns were raised late in the public comment process last year by Dr. Temple Grandin, the Colorado State University animal welfare expert whose life was depicted in an HBO movie.

The groups writing the Ag and Justice departments asked for a timeline “on a planned course of action.” Washington D.C.-based Food and Water Watch coordinated the group letter.

Signers included:

Agriculture and Land Based Training Association (CA)

Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association

Alliance for a Sustainable Future (PA)

Alternative Energy Resources Organization (AERO) -MT

Ambler Environmental Advisory Council

American Agriculture Movement

American Corn Growers Association

American Federation of Government Employees (AFL-CIO), Local 3354, USDA-St. Louis (representing Rural Development and Farm Loan employees in Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas)

American Grassfed Association

American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association

Ashtabula-Lake-Geauga County Farmers Union

BioRegional Strategies

Buckeye Quality Beef Association (Ohio)

C.A.S.A. del Llano (TX)

California Dairy Campaign

California Farmers Union

California Food & Justice Coalition

Californians for GE-Free Agriculture

Campaign for Contract Agriculture Reform

Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Cattle Producers of Louisiana

Cattle Producers of Washington

Center for Celebration of Creation

Center for Food Safety

Center for Rural Affairs

Chemung County Church Women United (NY)

Chemung County Council of Churches (NY)

Chemung County Council of Women, NY

Church Women United of Chemung County NY

Church Women United of New York State

Citizens for Sanity.Com, Inc.

Citizens for Sludge-Free Land

Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association

Community Alliance for Global Justice

Community Farm Alliance (KY)

Community Food Security Coalition

Consumers Union

Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias

Court St Joseph #139, Corning/Elmira, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Corning, NY

Crawford Stewardship Project

Cumberland Counties for Peace & Justice

Dakota Resource Council

Dakota Rural Action

Davidson College Office of Sustainability

Ecological Farming Association

Endangered Habitats League

Family Farm Defenders

Farm Aid

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

Farm Fresh Choice(Program of Ecology Center)

Farmworker Association of Florida

Fay-Penn Economic Development Council

Federation of Southern Cooperatives

Food & Water Watch

Food Chain Workers Alliance

Food Democracy Now!

Food for Maine’s Future

Friends of the Earth U.S.

Gardenshare: Healthy Farms, Healthy Food, Everybody Eats

Georgia Poultry Justice Alliance

Grassroots International

Heartland Center / Office of Peace and Justice for the Diocese of Gary, Indiana and the Integrity of Creation

Hispanic Organizations Leadership Alliance

Idaho Rural Council

Illinois Stewardship Alliance

Independent Beef Association of North Dakota (I-BAND)

Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska

Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

Institute for Nonviolent Economics

Institute for Responsible Technology

International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC)

Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement

Iowa Farmers Union

Island Grown Initiative

Izaak Walton League

Just Food (NY)

Kansas Cattlemen’s Association

Kansas Farmers Union

Kansas Rural Center

Ladies of Charity of Chemung County (NY)

Land Loss Prevention Project

Land Stewardship Project

Main Street Opportunity Lab

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Michael Fields Agricultural Institute

Michigan Farmers Union

Michigan Land Trustees

Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance

Midwest Environmental Advocates

Midwest Organic Dairy Producers Association

Minnesota Farmers Union

Missionary Society of St. Columban

Mississippi Assoc. of Cooperatives

Mississippi Livestock Markets Association

Missouri Farmers Union

Missouri Rural Crisis Center

National Catholic Rural Life Conference

National Family Farm Coalition

National Farmers Organization

National Farmers Union

National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Nebraska Farmers Union

Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society

Nebraska Wildlife Federation

Network for Environmental & Economic Responsibility

New England Farmers Union

New England Small Farm Institute

Non-GMO Project

North Carolina Contract Poultry Growers Association

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance

Northeast Organic Farming Association – Massachusetts

Northeast Organic Farming Association – NY

Northeast Organic Farming Association, Interstate Council

Northern Plains Resource Council

Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance

Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Ohio Environmental Stewardship Alliance

Ohio Farmers Union

Oregon Livesto
ck Producers Association

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Oregon Rural Action

Organic Consumers Association

Organic Farming Research Foundation

Organic Seed Alliance

Organization for Competitive Markets

Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples

Partnership for Earth Spirituality

Past Regents Club, Catholic Daughters of the Americas, Diocese of Rochester, NY

PCC Natural Markets

Pennsylvania Farmers Union

Pennypack Farm and Education Center (PA)

Pesticide Action Network North America

Pesticide Free Zone

Pew Environment Group

Pomona Grange #1, Chemung County NY

Powder River Basin Resource Council (WY)

Progressive Agriculture (PA)

R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union

Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA (RAFI-USA)

Rural Coalition

Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia

Slow Food USA

South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association

South Dakota Stockgrowers Association

St John the Baptist Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order, Elmira NY

Sustain LA

Sustainable Living Systems

Taos County Economic Development Corporation

Texas Farmers Union

The Cornucopia Institute

The Endocrine Disruption Exchange

The Second Chance Foundation

Tilth Producers of Washington

Trappe Landing Farm & Native Sanctuary

Veteran Grange #1118, Chemung County NY

Virginia Association for Biological Farming

Washington Biotechnology Action Council

Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC)


Women, Food and Agriculture Network

Women’s Environmental Institute