R-Calf's Bill Bullard Says Litigation is Their Preferred Strategy to Get What They WantWed, 11 Dec 2019 07:36:43 CST
The Oklahoma Independent Stockgrowers Association held their Day of Education this past weekend in Oklahoma City. KC Sheperd caught up with R-Calf Chief Executive Officer Bill Bullard, to talk about the current litigation that they are pursuing, including one that was started back in the spring. Bullard gave an update on the status of that suit, "This is a historic anti-trust lawsuit that we filed against the four major packers. In our lawsuit, we allege that Tyson, Cargill, JBS, and National Beef conspired to artificially depress prices paid to U.S. Cattle producers from January 1 of 2015 to the present. The case is presently in the stage where the packers have filed a motion to dismiss. We're in the briefing process now, and we expect that early next year, the court will hold a hearing on those motions to determine whether or not the lawsuit will proceed, so that is the status presently."
Bullard also provided an update on the litigation that R-Calf filed against USDA over the Beef Checkoff, "Now that case we have already won a preliminary injunction that affects the state of Montana. We have now expanded the case to include fifteen states. In that case, we allege it is unconstitutional for the government to compel producers to fund the private speech of private corporations. Our concern is some of those private corporations are actually working against the interest of the payers of the program, and that would be the U.S. farmers and ranchers that raise cattle. The case presently is under consideration by the magistrate judge. We have already briefed our motions for summary judgement, so we are awaiting a decision that could come at any time."
Oklahoma is not one of the additional states targeted by the R-Calf litigation- but both Texas and Kansas are.
When asked if this litigation would go to trial, Bullard said it would be a Magistrate judge's recommendations and findings that would then be submitted to the district court judge, and at that point, they could decide whether to amend, accept or reject. That decision could still be several months away.
Bullard says they don't approach as litigation from a Willy-nilly type of approach. He says they look at core problems he believes the industry has today, "Number 1 our markets are fundamentally broken. #2 our U.S. cattle producers are forced to compete in a global market place with their hands tied behind their back because they cannot distinguish their superior product in the market place. #3 we have private corporations and federal agencies that are partnering together in order to extract value from U.S. cattle producers without paying them a cent. The final one is that your checkoff dollars are actually being used to fund the first three, so our lawsuits are strategically pointed at those core problems."
Bullard did acknowledge that over the years, R-Calf had seen only limited success in their lobbying efforts- and that only by working through the Judicial branch had the group achieved any success in their goals.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear Bill Bullard as he talks with KC Sheperd.
The Beef Buzz, hosted by Ron Hays, is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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