An Act from 1922 still important to you

Column from Chuck Spencer, GROWMARK director of governmental affairs

Posted on: 3/5/2010 5:22:00 PM
Agriculture has a rich history, including some landmark laws important to farmers. One of these laws, with vital importance to all types of cooperatives, is the Capper Volstead Act.

What is so important about this law? Simply put, it is a federal law passed in 1922 that provides the ability for cooperatives to exist as we know them today.

Many people experience the benefits of cooperatives on a daily basis. Agriculture cooperatives continue to change with the demands of the member-owners who use their services.

As the marketplace changes, questions about market competition can surface. The U.S. Department of Justice and USDA are hosting the first joint public workshops on competition issues affecting the agriculture industry in the 21st Century and the appropriate role for antitrust and regulatory enforcement.

Information reviewing the workshops can be found at {http://www.justice.gov/atr/public/workshops/ag2010/index.htm#overview}.
Cooperatives across the nation are expressing their value this year. They help individual farmers band together to improve their ability to purchase inputs and sell their products.

The rich history of service from a broad range of cooperatives can be told by you, the cooperative member-owner, directly to the agencies seeking producer input. The website listed above tells you how to send comments.

It is important that producers state their support for the Capper Volstead Act and tell the agencies that it does not need to be changed.

Farmers count on the Capper Volstead Act to provide the ability to work together when competing in the global economy, while allowing their cooperatives the flexibility to respond to farmer needs in a continually changing marketplace.

The demands on farmers and their cooperatives are significant. World population growth, demand for renewable products to enhance the environment, and the potential for new medical uses from farm products will require an economic and regulatory environment that encourages innovation.

Our focus should be on growing an agricultural business climate rich with innovation, cooperation, and methods for the agriculture industry to recover their investment in research and development, which will in turn foster further innovation.

I think most feel that the Capper Volstead Act has done just that for farmers and should be allowed to continue to do so without any changes.
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Chuck Spencer is GROWMARK’s director of government affairs. His e-mail address is cspencer@growmark.com.