Articles

09/15/2011 – U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announces plans to undertake a study to consolidate Toledo P&DC

 

10/14/2011 – Kaptur-Brown letter to Postmaster General raising concerns about how the Toledo P&DC consolidation study is being conducted

 

11/22/2011 – Kaptur-Brown letter to U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) raising concerns about how the Toledo P&DC consolidation study is being conducted and requesting GAO conduct its own independent analysis

 

12/14/2011 – USPS announces that the study recommends consolidation of Toledo P&DC

 

12/29/2011 – Kaptur attends public meeting on results of study and announces opposition to consolidation plans

 

03/20/2012 – Kaptur speaks with Congressman Stephen Lynch, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service & The Census, about legislative options to keep Toledo P&DC open under any circumstances

 

05/05/2012 – Kaptur letter to Postmaster General regarding reports that verbal agreements were made with Senators on keeping Mail Processing Centers open to ensure passage of Senate postal reform bill

 

05/17/2012 – USPS announcement that Toledo P&DC will remain open until January 2014

 

02/25/2013 – Kaptur letter to Postmaster General detailing business case for keeping Toledo P&DC open

 

03/14/2013 – Kaptur personally meets with USPS Vice President of Network Operations David E. Williams to make case directly to USPS to keep Toledo P&DC open permanently

 

03/25/2013 – Kaptur call with USPS VP Williams on Toledo P&DC consolidation

 

03/26/2013 – USPS provides notice that it is moving Toledo P&DC consolidation from 2014 to 2013

 

05/16/2013 – Call with Senator Sherrod Brown to discuss options for keeping Toledo P&DC open

 

05/30/2013 – Kaptur letter to Postmaster General urging better communication with Toledo P&DC about their future and requesting reconsideration of consolidation

 

05/31/2013 – Kaptur-Brown letter to USPS Office of Inspector General requesting an independent audit to confirm analysis that Toledo P&DC should be consolidated

 

06/06/2013 – Kaptur-Brown-Portman-Latta representatives meet with Toledo Mayor and Postal Unions to discuss pending Toledo P&DC consolidation

 

06/24/2013 – USPS Office of Inspector General informs Kaptur that an independent audit of Toledo P&DC consolidation study will be undertaken later in 2013

 

07/01/2013 – Kaptur-Brown-Portman-Latta letter urging Postmaster General to wait until Inspector General completes audit before going forward with consolidation of Toledo P&DC

 

07/31/2013 – Kaptur letter to USPS Office of Inspector General sharing Franchetti study and urging to expedite audit of Toledo P&DC AMP

 

9/13/2013 – Kaptur letter to Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor urging them to bring forth legislation to reform the USPS, specifically H.R. 630 - The Postal Service Protection Act of 2013

 

2/18/2014 - Kaptur letter to USPS Office of Inspector General regarding the decision to change Critical Acceptance Times at the Toledo Processing Plant

 

8/1/2014 – Kaptur Letter to USPS Office of Inspector General expressing strong opposition to the USPS Phase II Network Rationalization plan, which ultimately resulted in the closure of the Toledo Postal and Distribution Center

 

2/13/2015 – Kaptur issues statement in response to news that USPS will move forward shutting down Toledo P&DC facility.

 

LEGISLATIVE ACTION

 

09/25/2009 – Kaptur votes in favor of H.R. 2918, Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, which provides immediate financial relief to USPS by allowing USPS to defer $4 billion payment due to the Postal Retiree Health Benefits Fund

 

05/10/2011 – Kaptur cosponsors H.R. 1351, United States Postal Service Pension Obligation Recalculation and Restoration Act of 2011

 

09/29/2011 – Kaptur supports H.R. 2017, Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012, which additional immediate financial relief to USPS by allowing USPS to defer $5.5 billion payment due to Postal Retiree Health Benefits Fund

 

10/04/2011 – Kaptur votes in favor of H.R. 2608, Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012, which provides USPS with additional time to make previous scheduled payments

 

11/17/2011 – Kaptur votes in favor of H.R. 2112, Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012, which provides USPS with additional time to make previous scheduled payments

 

12/16/2011 – Kaptur votes in favor of H.R. 2055, Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, which provides USPS with additional time to make previous scheduled payments

 

06/28/2012 – Kaptur cosponsors H.R. 3591, Postal Service Protection Act of 2011

 

Co-Sponsored by Rep. Kaptur in 113th and 114th Congresses

 

113th

H.R. 2690: Innovate to Deliver Act of 2013 (Postal Reform) (Rep. Cummings Bill)

H.R. 630: Service Protection Act of 2013 (Postal Reform/Prefunding Pensions)

H.R. 961: United States Postal Service Stabilization Act of 2013 (Pension Reform)

H.R. 2459: Protect Overnight Delivery Act

 

114th (current)

H.Res 12: Urges the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of its six-day mail delivery service.

 

H.Res 28:Urges the U.S. Postal Service to take all appropriate measures to ensure the continuation of door delivery for all business and residential customers.

 

H.Res 54: Urges the United States Postal Service should take all appropriate measures to restore service standards in effect as of July 1, 2012.

On May 29, 2014, the Appropriations Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives marked up the agriculture funding bill for Fiscal Year 2015. That bill included a provision known as the GIPSA rider (Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Act), which prohibited USDA from using any money to implement rules authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill to protect chicken farmers from industry retaliation. 

 

The USDA rule in question was developed over a six year period, during which time USDA held numerous public forums and interviewed many farmers, processors and others. The final rule was designed by USDA to protect poultry, cattle and pig farmers from industry retaliation if they spoke out, and to ensure the farmers would have standing when negotiating contracts with large industrial meat processing companies.

 

Rep. Kaptur proposed two amendments during the markup in an effort to remove some or all of the GIPSA rider and allow USDA to enforce these 2008 Farm Bill protections. The first amendment she proposed attempted to remove the entire GIPSA rider, which is referred to here as section 730 of the bill. That amendment was declined. The second amendment focused specifically on allowing USDA enforcement of protections of farmers’ right to speak about their conditions without fear of retaliation. Rep. Kaptur noted several examples of this kind of retaliation. That amendment was also declined.

 

Here, for public review and response, is a link to the video of the FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations markup, a full transcript of Rep. Kaptur’s remarks as she confronted the committee with these amendments, and the roll call vote count for each amendment.

 

Full Committee Markup - FY 2015 Agriculture Appropriations Bill

Video: https://youtu.be/NSggNfR46t0?t=2h9m3s

 

Amendment #1 (starts at 2:09:03)

Introduction:

“My amendment is in opposition to the language in the base bill to section 730, it strikes that [section]. As written, section 730 would prohibit the USDA from finalizing regulations to address commonplace abuses and anti-competitive practices that bear down on family farmers and livestock producers, for example in the poultry industry. My amendment is pro-farmer, pro-consumer and it’s pro-competition.

 

Let me point out that our committee should not be in the position of trying to thwart the Farm Bill. I’m talking about the Farm Bill of 2008 as well as the current farm bill that was passed. Yes I said 2008. Because since that farm bill’s passage, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been following the law and proceeding methodically to hold hearings on what the farm bill directed it to do on the competition that faces family farmers involved in livestock production. USDA, in following the bill, has proposed rules as of June 2010, and incorporating in that, listening to those hearings what those farmers were saying to them. Then in 2011, continuing to proceed based on the law, USDA issued final rules after receiving extensive public comments.

 

Importantly, the rules that they are proposing include farmer productions such as fair contracting procedures for these family farmers. But instead of allowing USDA to do its job, the meat packers and the poultry companies did an end-run again now to this Congress in this bill that would essentially say to USDA: “you can’t complete your work that you began over six years ago on practices that have been an issue for decades to address a serious situation and the unfair practices that impact farmers across our nation.”

 

Here’s an example. I remember I was up in one part of our country, I won’t say which state, meeting with farmers who were subjected to what I term very unfair practices. I said to the farmers, may I ask you a question? Because they were totally beholden to the poultry integrator, I said “who owns the manure, the black gold here in this operation?” The farmer just looked at me, he had no answer. Two hours later I was with the company that had sold the hens to the farmer, and I said “what happens to the black gold” and the company said to me “oh, let me show you.” So the man goes and comes back with a jar of pelletized manure and he said “we own it.” I said “do you have contract rights to that manure?”

 

What was interesting was he knew all about the science of fertilizers and power production based on that very rich nutrient but the farmer was left out in the lurch.

 

We’ve been trying as a country to be fair to all parties in the food production process, the farmer as well as the processor. The amendment that I am proposing is supported by over 168 farmer, consumer, community and faith organizations from around the country. They know the situation that they face every day. It includes the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association, groups like the Cattle Producers of Washington, Contract Poultry Association of Virginia, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Independent Beef Association, Iowa Farmers Union, the list is very long, Rural Vermont…

 

All kinds of organizations support this because they know what is happening is not fair on both sides of the equation. The need for additional protections for farmers is even greater now because of the vertical integration going on in the food production system in our country, enabling contracting practices that are even more abusive for local farmers. The market power, for example, of the big chicken companies becomes much higher at the local level.

 

An example: poultry companies source chicken from contract farmers within about a 50 mile range of the processing plant—chickens don’t travel very well so they have to be close to where they’re processed. But according to USDA, about half of the farmers have only two processing plants within 50 miles and one quarter of the farmers have only one plant. That means there’s no competition in the industry, that they are truly beholden.

 

I would ask my colleagues to please level the playing field, let farmers have an opportunity have their contractual rights and fair practices observed in the food production systems of this country. I would urge support of the Kaptur amendment.”

 

Close:

“I thank you very much and I would just say we shouldn’t stop the Department of Agriculture from implementing the Farm Bill. Your provision does that in the base bill. I want to go back to regular order and not try to stop the authorization process and the rulemaking process at USDA. It’s been going on long enough.

 

I hate to get personal about this, but Arkansas (Rep. Womack) has companies like Tyson, OK foods, George’s and Simmons, they have a very important role in the economy of those states. So should the farmers doing the work.

 

And in Alabama you have Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Koch Foods, Keystone, and Wayne Farms, they have major market power. So should the farmers doing the hard sweat labor that produces these animals. So I’m saying let the Department of Agriculture go forward, don’t tie their hands by section 730 in this bill. Let’s support fair contracting processes, let’s support just practices, let’s remove abusive practices that affect those who become a modern form of indentured, bonded production houses to major integrators. We have to level the playing field, let USDA do its job, support the Kaptur amendment, support our contract farmers.”

 

ROLL CALL NO. 3: Recorded vote - 18 yeas, 31 nays

Members Voting Yea:

Mr. Bishop

Ms. DeLauro

Mr. Farr

Mr. Honda

Ms. Kaptur

Ms. Lee

Mrs. Lowey

Ms. McCollum

Mr. Moran

Ms. Pingree

Mr. Price

Mr. Quigley

Ms. Roybal-Allard

Mr. Ryan

Mr. Schiff

Mr. Serrano

Mr. Visclosky

Ms. Wasserman Schultz

Members Voting Nay:

Mr. Aderholt

Mr. Amodei

Mr. Calvert

Mr. Carter

Mr. Cole

Mr. Crenshaw

Mr. Cuellar

Mr. Culberson

Mr. Dent

Mr. Diaz-Balart

Mr. Fleischmann

Mr. Fortenberry

Mr. Frelinghuysen

Ms. Granger

Mr. Graves

Dr. Harris

Ms. Herrera Beutler

Mr. Joyce

Mr. Kingston

Mr. Latham

Mr. Nunnelee

Mr. Owens

Mrs. Roby

Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rooney

Mr. Simpson

Mr. Stewart

Mr. Valadao

Mr. Wolf

Mr. Womack

Mr. Yoder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amendment #2 (starts at 2:51:42)

Introduction:

 “Mr Chairman, I have a second amendment…

Members of the committee, this amendment goes to the same title as the former one, 730, which deals with the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Act (GIPSA) and I rise in opposition to portions of that provision, and I urge the Members to strike a portion of the rider because it prevents American farmers from exercising their rights of free speech in the bargaining process.

 

If we allow this specific provision of the rider to go into effect, it would prevent the USDA from protecting farmers against large processing firms, like Tyson’s and Purdue, who may engage in retaliatory actions against farmers for speaking to public officials, including their Members of Congress, about abusive practices, intimidation and coercion that regularly occurs in the industry. Striking this portion of the rider would allow the USDA to protect farmers from retaliation for exercising their rights of free speech.

 

In May of 2010, there was a hearing held, Agriculture Vilsack and Attorney General Holder, went to Alabama to hear about poultry. One of the biggest messages they heard from poultry growers was about the fear of retaliation if growers speak out about the abuses they face on their farms if their dealings with the poultry companies that control their contracts and their livelihoods are at issue.

 

Here’s an example:

One poultry farmer at the hearing recounted what happened when he contested his poultry company’s effort to add a new provision to his a contract that included a mandatory arbitration clause, which would have taken away his right to a jury trial if a dispute arose.  When he took issue with the clause, the processing company refused to work with him.  Absent other options, the farmer and his wife lost their farm.  ‘We chose to stand up for our principles,’ the farmer, a former infantryman and pilot in Vietnam, said at the hearing.  ‘We did not give up a fundamental right to access the public court … which is guaranteed by our Constitution, regardless of price.  I had flown too many combat missions defending that Constitution to forfeit it.  It was truly ironic that protecting one right, we lost another.  We lost the right to property.’

 

It is widely understood, by the way, in poultry circles that farmers who dare to play leadership roles in organizing a poultry growers group often suffer from retaliation.  A hen breeder in Georgia was the victim of severe retaliation by his poultry company when he tried to organize a breeder hen grower association in his area, to get farmers to work together in support of better contract terms.  The company deliberately targeted him and delivered sick chickens to his farm.  He was able to sue and years later he won his case after it was proven that the company deliberately targeted him with bad birds because of his organizing efforts.  We cannot allow farmers to be harmed because they speak to their Members of Congress or local public officials. We must strike sections of this provision from the bill and allow American farmers to use their right to freedom of speech, including coming to us on these issues.”

 

Closing statement:

“Mr. Chairman, in closing I just want to read the proposed regulations:

A retaliatory action or omission by a packer, a swine contractor or a live poultry dealer in response to the lawful expression, spoken or written association, or action of a poultry grower, livestock producer, or swine production contract grower.

A retaliatory action includes but is not limited to coercion, intimidation or disadvantage to any producer or grower, in an execution, termination, extension or renewal of a contract involving livestock or poultry.

They’re trying to protect the farmer’s rights. I would say to my dear colleague you are taking them away by opposing my amendment. The Department of Agriculture wants to enforce these regulations so that farmers have standing, and that they don’t have their livelihoods taken away simply because they are allowed to speak about their conditions. What is wrong with that? What is wrong with that?

 

And what is wrong with that is that the companies in this situation have too much power. Those doing the work in these houses don’t have enough power. We need to give them equal standing in the courts and in their ability to come and see us and exercise their rights of free speech. Please support this amendment.”

 

 

ROLL CALL NO. 5: Recorded vote - 20 yeas, 29 nays

Members Voting Yea:

Mr. Bishop

Ms. DeLauro

Mr. Farr

Mr. Fattah

Mr. Fortenberry

Mr. Honda

Ms. Kaptur

Ms. Lee

Mrs. Lowey

Ms. McCollum

Mr. Moran

Ms. Pingree

Mr. Price

Mr. Quigley

Ms. Roybal-Allard

Mr. Ryan

Mr. Schiff

Mr. Serrano

Mr. Visclosky

Ms. Wasserman Schultz

Members Voting Nay:

Mr. Aderholt

Mr. Amodei

Mr. Calvert

Mr. Carter

Mr. Cole

Mr. Crenshaw

Mr. Cuellar

Mr. Culberson

Mr. Dent

Mr. Diaz-Balart

Mr. Fleischmann

Mr. Frelinghuysen

Ms. Granger

Mr. Graves

Dr. Harris

Ms. Herrera Beutler

Mr. Joyce

Mr. Kingston

Mr. Latham

Mr. Nunnelee

Mr. Owens

Mrs. Roby

Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rooney

Mr. Simpson

Mr. Stewart

Mr. Valadao

Mr. Womack

Mr. Yoder

 

 

Members of Congress who will vote on this issue in 2015: (click names for contact information)

Agriculture Subcommittee Members

Republicans

Democrats

 

Full Committee Members

Republicans

Democrats

  • Nita M. Lowey, New York
  • Marcy Kaptur, Ohio
  • Peter J. Visclosky, Indiana
  • José E. Serrano, New York
  • Rosa DeLauro, Connecticut
  • David E. Price, North Carolina
  • Lucille Roybal-Allard, California
  • Sam Farr, California
  • Chaka Fattah, Pennsylvania
  • Sanford Bishop, Jr., Georgia
  • Barbara Lee, California
  • Michael M. Honda, California
  • Betty McCollum, Minnesota
  • Steve Israel, New York
  • Tim Ryan, Ohio
  • C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Maryland
  • Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Florida
  • Henry Cuellar, Texas
  • Chellie Pingree, Maine
  • Mike Quigley, Illinois
  • Derek Kilmer, Washington

 

Bonus materials

 

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has published a thorough history of this issue: http://kaptur.house.gov/images/R416731.pdf

 

Testimony of Scott Hamilton, poultry grower from Alabama, before Senate Agriculture subcommittee in 2007

 

More about the USDA rule:

The final rule, which left out important provisions to protect farmers from industry retaliation,  was published in December 2011 and went into effect Feb. 2012.  You can find the text of that final rule here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-12-09/pdf/2011-31618.pdf.

 

If you compare that to the proposed rule, available here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-06-22/pdf/2010-14875.pdf, you will see that the final rule removed major provisions governing:

 

·       Record retention

·       Unfair, unjustly discriminatory and deceptive practices or devices

·       Undue or unreasonable preferences, prejudice, advantages or disadvantages

·       Livestock purchasing practices

·       Livestock and poultry contracts

·       Tournament systems