Billings, Mont. – In a letter sent Tuesday, R-CALF USA and its statewide cattle association affiliates are among 80 producer groups urging President Trump to issue an executive order reversing Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s recent decision to withdraw what are known as the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) rules or Farmers Fair Practices Rules.
The purpose of those rules was to implement Congress’ directive that livestock producers be protected from the unfair, unjustly discriminatory, deceptive, and preferential practices of highly concentrated meatpackers that wield potentially abusive market power due to their dominant control over fed cattle marketing outlets. That directive was first passed in the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 and restated in part in the 2008 Farm Bill.
In the United States only four meatpackers control about 85 percent of all marketing outlets for slaughter ready cattle. The second-largest of those four behemoths is Brazilian-owned JBS. The JBS corporation has already paid a multi-million dollar fine in Brazil for engaging in the anticompetitive practice of coordinating price agreements with other meatpacking cartels to keep producers’ cattle prices low. The corporation’s principal officers have been jailed for insider trading, have admitted to bribing nearly 2,000 politicians, and were caught shipping tainted beef in the world export market.
“This crime-based corporation is who Secretary Perdue has chosen to protect while throwing independent U.S. cattle ranchers to the wolves,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
Former GIPSA Administrator J. Dudley Butler explained in a public statement how Perdue’s action has rendered the Packers and Stockyards Act virtually unenforceable and has left independent cattle producers vulnerable to abuse by multinational corporations:
“A packer could defraud a rancher on a shipment of cattle and the rancher could not bring suit in Federal Court to recover his or her money unless he or she could prove some type of harm to the marketplace.” Butler wrote.
“This is an untenable burden and the Secretary knows it,” Bullard said adding, “We hope President Trump will stand by his promise to help America’s ranchers by swiftly reversing the Secretary’s competition-killing action.”
National, state and local cattle associations that joined in the request along with R-CALF USA include: American Grassfed Association; Buckeye Quality Beef; Cattle Producers of Louisiana; Cattle Producers of Washington; Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association; Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska; Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming; International Texas Longhorn Association; Kansas Cattlemen’s Association; Missouri’s Best Beef Co-Op.; Murray County, Oklahoma, Independent Cattlemen’s Association; Northern Wisconsin Beef Producers Association; Oglala Stock Growers and Landowners Association; Range Allotment Owners Association; and South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.