Rally to Stop the Stealin’ promotes ranching way of life
Six actions President Donald Trump and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue can Take to save the U.S. cattle market.
1. Stop foreign meat from being labeled “Product of U.S.A.” by ruling in favor of the OCM and American Grassfed Association petition to USDA’s Federal Safety Inspection Service.
2. Withdraw the United States Mexico Canada Agreement until such time as Country of Origin Labeling is included.
3. Reduce the amount of foreign beef imported into the United States and cease all efforts to reopen the U.S. to Brazilian beef.
Drain the swamp of corporate monopoly power:
4. Restore producer protection safeguards under the Packers and Stockyards Act by issuing new rules that meet or exceed the demands that are outlined by Sens Jon Tester, D-Mont., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, along with Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, in their recent letter to USDA.
a. Clarify the long-standing USDA position that the Packers and Stockyards Act does not require a producer to demonstrate harm to competition across the entire sector in order to bring a claim.
b. Ensure packers are not providing preferential marketing arrangements to only a select group of large livestock feeders, while excluding opportunities for smaller, independent feeders to remain profitable.
c. Protect the rights of farmers to join together in producer associations to advocate for themselves, free from retribution.
d. Grower payment systems (tournament) should be objective, transparent, and reward growers for their management skills, not penalize them for factors outside of their control.
5. Restore the enforcement power of the Packers and Stockyards Act by re-establishing the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration and increase funding for investigations and enforcement.
6. Implement the Government Accountability Office’s recommendations and require USDA Agriculture Marketing Services Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting Group to share marketing data with USDA Packers and Stockyards Act Program or submit to Congress a proposal to allow for such sharing.
OMAHA, Neb. — Over the past decades the American public has stood by and watched the destruction of the family owned poultry and pork producers. A few large processing companies controlled the price and broke every one of the independent producers. Today the American cattle producer is standing on the brink of oblivion. If something isn’t done soon the ranching way of life will be gone and anyone raising cattle will be doing it for one of the multi-national companies who will control all beef from birth to plate.
This was the wake-up call issued at the Rally to Stop the Stealin’ held in Omaha, Neb., on Oct. 2 in the Ramada Inn ballroom. The event was sponsored by the Organization for Competitive Markets. A variety of other groups were invited to attend and participate, incuding R-CALF USA, Family Farm Action, Farm Aid and a score of other groups and organizations. Close to 400 cattle producers and feeders from close to a dozen different states came to listen and learn. A number of OCM board members spoke stressing the need for reimplementation of Country of Origin labeling, and for the government to step in and investigate the fat cattle market manipulation and to take additional action to save the cattlemen. They are urging people to continue calling Washington, tweeting President Trump and using social media to let their voices be heard.
OCM board members David Wright, Mike Callicrate, Wes Shoemyer and Vaughn Meyer all spoke about the six issues that OCM has outlined as most important and in need of President Trump’s immediate attention.
Fred Stokes, the founder of OCM is a small purebred cattle producer from Mississippi. “I retired from Army Military Intelligence in 1972, having grown up on a small farm all I ever wanted to do was raise cows. At that time cattle markets were at record highs, money was easy to borrow and I borrowed a bunch. The bottom went out and they were worth 30 percent of what I paid for them. I owed more than everything I owned was worth. I worked years to get out of debt, I did it but I’m still mad.
“I’m 85 and I don’t have any skin in the game anymore but I feel that with the beef check-off we have been funding our own demise. People say, ‘Someone should do something but I’m all tied up.’ We all have to come together and put aside our differences to do something. We must preserve our independent, domestic cattle industry,” Stokes said. “We supported President Trump and now we are calling on him to fulfill his campaign promises.”
OCM board members Chris Petersen of Clear Lake, Iowa, and Jonathan Buttram of Alabama related their own experiences as hog and poultry producers who were bankrupted and warned that the same fate is coming for cattle producers if things don’t change.
Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA, spoke at length outlining the issues faced by cattlemen. “We warn that if we lose the critical mass of those cattle producers, cattle feeders, auction yards and the other infrastructure that is needed to facilitate a competitive market, if we lose the critical mass it’s game over,” he said. “Our industry faces an impending crisis, a crisis that was emphasized by the Tyson Fire on Aug. 9. Today’s cattle prices are as much as 25 percent less than those five year averages. This is serious and something must be done to sustain the viability of our industry, while we address the broken market problem. The very worst thing this nation can do to America’s cattle producers today, is to do nothing.”
Tatum Lee of R-CALF USA gave a rousing impromptu talk urging producers to join together and fight for their way of life.
She clarified R-CALF USA’s purpose and explained that the group is not and has never been connected with the Humane Society of the United States, as some have said.
Al Davis from OCM urged the government to step in and work to fix the problem. “Farm and ranch families are facing a great extinction. If our government won’t stop the stealin’ now, the family farmer or hardworking rancher will be just a dusty memory in a Louis L’amour novel.”
OCM did address their relationship with the Humane Society of the United States. The HSUS provides pro bono legal representation for its beef checkoff program transparency lawsuit. “Without them there would be no lawsuit,” OCM stated.
OCM board member Vaughn Meyer, a South Dakota Angus and Red Angus breeder, said he hopes this is just the beginning of momentum-building for the cattle production and feeding sector.
“It was a good rally, the momentum is building. It was a start to fixing our problems and we’re going to continue to fight for improved competition and profitability for the U.S. cattle producer,” he said. ❖
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.