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Farm Press Release

For release THURSDAY, June 29, 2000.
Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Miller Unveils Web Site with Production and Marketing Ag Contracts

DES MOINES -- Attorney General Tom Miller unveiled a web site Thursday prepared by his office's Farm Division with more than thirty production and marketing contracts. "Our goal is to give livestock and grain producers key information so they can compare the types of contracts and terms being offered in the marketplace and then make their best decisions," Miller said.

The contract information can be found under "farm advocacy" at the Attorney General's web site: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org. The information includes 37 production and marketing contracts being used in Iowa. The site features actual contracts of various types and companies, including financial terms. Producers' names and any identifying information about them have been deleted.

"There's been an enormous increase in contracting," Miller said. "Our goal is to give Iowa farmers the best possible information so they can study and shop and make a well-informed decision about what kind of contract might work best for their farming operations," he said.

"Farmers need information, but the traditional open-market transparency in agriculture achieved through auctions, terminal markets, and futures trading is very much at risk in an era of production contracts and marketing arrangements that have featured confidentiality," Miller said. "This is another attempt to tackle that problem and help producers."

Miller said publishing basic contract information is possible now because the Iowa Legislature has prohibited confidentiality clauses in production contracts and marketing of livestock. "Many contracts used to forbid producers from sharing information or terms of their contracts. Now, confidentiality clauses are illegal in new contracts and they are unenforceable in contracts that were made before passage of the legislation in 1999," Miller said.

"Farmers need full knowledge of the subtle differences in these agreements to make their best choices," he said. "This is good for competition and good for producers."

Miller said his office intends to post more contracts at the site as they become available. He said contract growers who would like to share their contracts with others may do so by contacting the Farm Division of the Attorney General's Office at 515-281-5351 in Des Moines. Names and information about individual producers will be deleted from all contracts posted on the web site.

The Attorney General's Farm Division has done extensive work on production contracting. It drafted and disseminated about 20,000 "check-lists" for farmers considering grain and livestock production contracts. The check-lists also are available at the Attorney General's web site. The Farm Division also drafted and worked for passage of the production contract lien law, which gives producers protection in getting paid under a production contract.

A livestock production contract is an agreement under which a producer agrees to feed and care for livestock owned by a contractor in return for payment. A grain production contract is an agreement under which a producer agrees to raise a crop in a manner established by the contractor, to sell or deliver the crop to the contractor, and in return to be paid by the contractor.

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