Attorneys General from Iowa and 15 other states are pushing for state laws which would protect farmers from contracts that might put them out of business. Many farmers are now signing contracts with companies to raise livestock, and even grain. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says in the poultry industry, such contracts have “turned farmers into serfs.”Miller says urban consumers should be concerned about the kinds of contracts farmers might be forced into signing. Miller says larger operators could turn their power against the consumer as well as the farmer. Iowa law already prohibits contracts which bar farmers from telling others of the contract’s terms. Some farmers make an investment, like putting up a new building, as part of their contract, and Miller wants to ensure the contract lasts as long as the loan on those building improvements. Miller also wants Iowa law to force agribusinesses to write their contracts with farmers in “plain language.” And he wants to make sure farmers get the first shot at profits from the operation to ensure a company’s bankruptcy doesn’t put a lien on a farmers’ livestock or grain.
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