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NFU urges promotion of competitive markets

National Farmers Union called on Congress and the administration March 10 to take necessary measures to protect and promote a competitive marketplace for independent family farmers and ranchers. Delegates to NFU's 2009 convention cited the ethanol market as the only sector in agriculture that has witnessed a decrease in consolidation and increase in competition. Delegates said this model should be used as a guide for other agricultural markets.

"Independent producers cannot be successful without a competitive marketplace," NFU President Tom Buis said. "For far too long family farmers and ranchers are fighting anti-trust efforts with one hand tied behind their backs."

Convention delegates urged officials to take the following actions to ensure market competition:

--Approve legislation banning the ownership of livestock by meat processors;

--Appropriate enforcement of existing anti-trust laws;

--Coordination and collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Justice for anti-trust enforcement;

--A producer referendum on all commodity promotion programs and establishment of voluntary assessments determined at point of sale;

--Imposition of a temporary moratorium on large agricultural mergers;

--Establishment of an Office of Special Counsel on Competition within USDA;

--Collection and publishing of agricultural industry concentration information.

--Investigation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to analyze the causes of the hog market "disconnect" and its economic impact on independent hog producers across the country; and

--Expeditious implementation of the 2008 farm bill livestock competition title, which includes interstate shipment of state-inspected meat.

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