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Agricultural News

R-Calf Calls Congressional Letter to USDA Deceptive- Demands Retraction

Thu, 19 May 2011 15:05:19 CDT

R-Calf Calls Congressional Letter to USDA Deceptive- Demands Retraction The largest trade association representing multinational meatpackers in America – the American Meat Institute (AMI), along with its ally, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) that also represents multinational meatpackers – each issued news releases on Wednesday cheering a letter sent by 147 members of Congress to derail a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rulemaking. That rulemaking, commonly known as the GIPSA rule because it was issued by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), an agency of USDA, would impart fairness and transparency to U.S. livestock markets and would hold meatpackers accountable for their livestock procurement practices that harm U.S. livestock farmers and ranchers and consumers.

“We’re calling for the retraction of this congressional letter as it is an affront to U.S. livestock producers who have watched the multinational meatpackers capture their respective livestock industries over the past few decades, resulting in the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of family farmers and ranchers from our nation’s rural landscape,” said R-CALF USA President/Region IX Director George Chambers, of Carrollton, Ga.

“In just the past 30 years, more than 90 percent of our nation’s family operated hog operations have exited the industry, 80 percent of our nation’s family dairy operations are gone, and 42 percent of our cattle farms and ranches also are gone,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard. “We’ve literally wiped out economic opportunities for hundreds of thousands of U.S. small businesses, and these livestock-producing small businesses are absolutely essential if we are to maintain the economic viability of Rural America and also preserve food safety and food security for U.S. consumers.”

“Together, AMI and NCBA are fighting to help multinational meatpackers capture the livestock supply chain – the source of our nation’s meat supply – away from family farmers and ranchers and give full control over the supply chain to the packers,” said Chambers. “We know this is true based on AMI’s public statement that clearly establishes its goal to capture the U.S. livestock supply chain through vertical integration. AMI stated: ‘The entire U.S. economy - from manufacturers to service providers - has moved towards both vertical and horizontal integration as a means of survival and striving for excellence. Barring one sector of the economy, meatpackers, from utilizing this model is unfair, punitive and lacking in any credible evidence.’ This is their goal – to capture the supply chain through vertical integration – and now they have enlisted 147 members of Congress to help them further destroy what few marketing opportunities are left for our family farm and ranch members.”

Bullard said the congressional letter epitomizes how multinational meatpackers are able to manipulate congressional members into doing their bidding, even under false pretenses.

“The letter itself contains a blatant falsehood,” said Bullard.

Before the letter’s principal author, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), sent the letter, Bullard personally pointed out to Costa’s office that contrary to the letter’s assertion that both the House and the Senate previously rejected the major provision in the GIPSA rule regarding competitive injury, Congress had never voted to reject that provision.

“In fact, the competitive injury provision contained in the GIPSA rule does nothing but memorialize the very position that USDA has held for many years, and which the agency has asserted in numerous court cases involving meatpackers that engaged in anticompetitive practices that put livestock producers out of business,” he said.     

“Despite assurances from Costa’s office that an inaccurate and false letter would not be sent, that’s precisely what Congressman Costa and his colleagues did,” said Bullard. “The letter contains an outright lie and is a deception, and the congressional members who signed this letter should join us in calling for its immediate retraction.

“The public and U.S. livestock producers are being browbeaten by the powerful meatpackers, their trade associations – AMI and NCBA – and now by these 147 congressional members who are using deceitful tactics to help the packers destroy economic opportunities for U.S. livestock producers and the consuming public,” he concluded. “We couldn’t be more disappointed in their underhanded actions.”

Click here for more information on the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America



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