Agriculture producers may soon have a way to level the playing field with large corporate entities under legislation authored by Senator Paul Muegge, D-Tonkawa.
Senate Bill 1075 would create the Agriculture Production Fair Practices Act, which would provide legislative intent, definition and explanation to those associated with agriculture. In basic terms, it means producers would have more say in their dealings with corporate farming giants.
"Producers have long struggled to find a mechanism to define contractual relationships where farming operations and policies are concerned," said Muegge. "This bill would focus on defining guidelines and protocol when it comes to dealings between producers and corporate farming operations."
Under SB 1075, the proposed Fair Practices Act would give the producer more say and legal support in the way their products are produced, marketed and utilized.
Senator Muegge says it gives a tremendous amount of bargaining power back to agriculture producers.
"This legislation was designed to protect not just the pig and chicken farmers, but also crop producers," said Senator Muegge. "The way of thinking in farming today is that the only way farmers can farm is under a contract, and if that's the case, then agriculture production needs to be provided appropriate legal standing. As it stands now, farmers are often given a contract and told to sign it or risk being left behind their neighboring farmers. This legislation would give those producers some peace of mind that their signature means fair and definite terms of agreement."
The legislation even provides a course of action if two parties cannot reach an agreement. SB 1075 provides agriculture mediation if requested, and services may include assistance in proposing and implementing arbitration agreements between accredited association and designated integrators.
"It's no secret that many agriculture producers in the state need assistance and protection in order to maintain their businesses in light of the strong arm of the corporate farming boom," said Muegge. "This legislation is aimed at protecting farmers from hardships caused by unfair, deceptive and unethical bargaining and trade practices of integrators."