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Farmers Protest Pork Tax

“Honor our vote, honor democracy, end the pork tax now!”

Campaign for Family Farms
Washington, DC

Leaving their farms just before spring planting, farmers from across the Midwest came to Washington, DC, sowing seeds of outrage. On Sunday, more than 300 hog farmers and community leaders rallied at the Alexandria, Virginia, home of the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture, Ann Veneman.

Waving signs, blowing whistles and chanting, hog farmers demanded a meeting with Secretary Veneman. Larry Ginter, an Iowa hog farmer and member of Iowa CCI who participated in the rally at Veneman’s house, said he was in Washington, DC to end the pork tax and protect democracy.

“As a hog farmer, I’m outraged that the new Secretary of Agriculture would choose to support a failed and unpopular tax on hogs as her first action in office. But as an American, I’m absolutely enraged that she’d attempt to do this by negating a democratic vote.”

The March 25 rally focused on the February 28th decision by Bush’s Secretary of Agriculture to continue the pork checkoff tax - an assessment paid by farmers each time they sell a hog. In September, hog farmers nationwide voted to end the tax, but before the program could be dismantled the new administration attempted to overturn the vote.

On March 26, farmers took their protest to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), the organization that has been receiving nearly $1 million per week from America’s hog farmers.

Over 150 people protested at the swank DC offices of the NPPC for about an hour chanting, “Honor our vote, honor democracy, end the pork tax now!”

Linda Noble, a Minnesota hog farmer and member of Land Stewardship Project said, “Hog farmers protested at the NPPC office because it’s obvious that NPPC has forgotten whose money they are taking. Independent hog farmers nationwide voted to end the mandatory pork checkoff, but the NPPC doesn’t respect independent producers and it doesn’t respect democracy.”

Rhonda Perry, a Missouri hog farmer and member of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center explained the reason for the protests. “This is America where everyone’s vote should count. When your vote doesn’t count you have to take your message to the people who are standing in the way of democracy.”

Both protests were peaceful and ended without arrests or problems.

Iowa CCI, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Land Stewardship Project from Minnesota, and Missouri Rural Crisis Center have also filed pleadings in federal court to uphold the vote that terminated the mandatory pork tax

Published in In Motion Magazine, March 30, 2001