Lawsuit challenges cancellation of farmer fair practice rule

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Farmers in Alabama and Nebraska have joined a Nebraska-based fair trade group to sue the U.S. Department of Agriculture over the agency's cancellation of rules that would have made it easier for farmers to demand better treatment when contracting with meatpacking companies.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeks to reverse the October USDA decision vacating the rules.

The rules would have made it easier for farmers to sue over contracts deemed unfair, discriminatory or deceptive. They were proposed during President Barack Obama's administration and canceled after Donald Trump took office.

Nonprofit-based legal group Democracy Forward sued on behalf of Lincoln, Nebraska-based Organization for Competitive Markets; Nebraska farmer James Dinklage; and Alabama farm couple Jonathan and Connie Buttram.

A USDA spokesman declined comment.

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