Washington, D.C. — On behalf of the Organization for Competitive Markets and individual farmers, Democracy Forward replied to the Trump Administration’s attempt to keep independent farmers out of court in their suit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s unlawful withdrawal of rules designed to protect family farms from big agribusiness abuse.

The brief comes as President Trump’s trade war escalates and highlights the extent to which family farmers are paying the price for Trump Administration policies here at home. Illegally stripped of protections offered by the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, family farms have been left to fend for themselves.

“America’s family farmers just want a fair shake,” said Organization for Competitive Markets Executive Director Joe Maxwell. “When large multinational corporations threaten them and their livelihoods or retaliate against them for speaking out against the injustices, farmers simply want government safeguards against these large goliaths in the market. We need the Farmer Fair Practices Rules upheld.”

“The Trump Administration’s promises to help farmers are entirely hollow,” said Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy.  “They broke the law to help big agribusiness abuse independent and contract farmers, the same farmers who are going to lose the most from the president’s trade war.”

In October 2017 the Administration withdrew the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, rules crucial to ensuring that farmers are able to protect themselves from the effects of market concentration in the agricultural sector. In doing so, the Trump Administration defied Congress’s mandate, in the 2008 Farm Bill, to publish regulations clarifying what conduct violates the Packers and Stockyards Act. In yet another example of the Administration’s disdain for farmers, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue claimed that the reason American independent farmers do not succeed is that “other people do it better.”

The Organization for Competitive Markets, Jonathan and Connie Buttram, and Jim Dinklage are being represented pro bono by Democracy Forward Foundation.  The case is before the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.


Democracy Forward is a nonprofit legal organization that scrutinizes Executive Branch activity across policy areas, represents clients in litigation to challenge unlawful actions, and educates the public when the White House or federal agencies break the law.

Organization for Competitive Markets is a national membership-based research and advocacy organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade in America’s food and agricultural sectors.

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