Home Farm Bill would have set up arbitration for chicken growers

Bill would have set up arbitration for chicken growers

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DSC_0617LITTLE ROCK – Among the raft of bills being brought before the state legislature this term was a proposal to allow livestock producers, especially in the poultry industry, recourse in disputes with corporate concerns.
The bill, proposed by house member Jon Eubanks (R-Paris), would establish an arbitration panel to be appointed by the governor under the Livestock and Poultry Commission. It would allow growers to file a complaint with the commission when they feel that a contract to produce livestock has not been fulfilled by the other party, according to statements released by Arkansas Farm Bureau. The complaint through this mechanism, with a $250 fee, would be far less costly than civil litigation.
The language of the bill stated that the arbitration committee would consist of three growers from a list provided by Arkansas Farm Bureau, three members suggested by the Arkansas Poultry Federation and one member not necessarily on either list, and would be able to recommend damages for the grower if the group found the contract holder to be at fault.
Arkansas Farm Bureau, which favored the proposal, predicted that the bill would pass the state house but stall in committee in the state senate – which is exactly what happened.
The bill flew through the house with only a single vote against it on March 19. It has not been heard in the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Economic Development as of press time. According to sources with Farm Bureau, poultry companies have expressed concern about the bill, and have engaged paid lobbyists to oppose it.
Members of the senate committee have not released statements about why the bill has not had a vote.