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A nationwide coalition 127 farm and rural organization have joined together to ask Congress for help to restore fairness in ag markets.

The agricultural organizations sent a letter, signed by representatives from all 127 groups, to Congressional members asking that legislation that addresses the following seven concerns be passed.

Here are the 7 concerns the group outlined in the letter sent late last week:

1. Ban on livestock ownership by packers.

2. Producer Protection Act to establish minimum contract standards.

3. Transparency/minimum open market bill to prevent open, competitive markets from completely disappearing.

4. Captive Supply Reform Act to make livestock marketing contracts open and competitive.

5. Clarify the meaning of undue preferences to clarify that preferential pricing, paying different prices to different producers for livestock, is justified only for real differences in product value or actual and quantifiable differences in acquisition and transaction costs.

6. Close the poultry loopholes in the Packers & Stockyards Act to give USDA the authority to bring administrative actions against poultry dealers.

7. Bargaining rights for contract producers to close loopholes in the Agricultural Fair Practices Act of 1967 and to require processors to bargain in good faith with producer organizations.

"Retailing markets stole so much value from our ag producers that they were choked out of business," said John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union and member of the ag coalition, to the Grand Island Independent. "We are asking Congress to put fairness, competition and profitability back into the food production portion of the food economy. All of agriculture, regardless of what they produce, is facing an economic crisis because of unchecked market concentration, and the unfair market controlling power that goes with it."

Farmers and ranchers nationwide face two problems. One, loss of market power and two, the ongoing drought which has reduced crop yields and forced producers to liquidate all or part of their herds.

Grand Island Independent