MF Global Scandal Could Hasten Vertical Integration in Agriculture

by Eric Nelson For grain and livestock producers without some kind of marketing agreement with a packer or end user, the CME Group in Chicago offers alternatives for producers to hedge their production, without signing marketing agreements that give the power of supply control to the packer or end user. These agreements work as a relief valve in times of market supply shortages and allow end users to call in “contract commodities”, versus having to bid in the Read More …

Another Market Reformer Quits

Thomas F. “Fred” Stokes President On January 26th, J. Dudley Butler resigned his position as the livestock industry’s top cop. It was a sad day for independent livestock producers and poultry growers. There was lots of excitement and enthusiasm as the Obama Administration’s Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) forged an historic joint effort to deal with the long-neglected concentration and market power abuse in agriculture. But after some three years and five workshops which Read More …

Market Reform Efforts Held Captive to Politics?

by Fred Stokes At the OCM Annual Conference in St. Louis in August of 2009, Phil Weiser, Deputy to Antitrust Chief Christine Varney, and J. Dudley Butler, Administrator of the Grain Inspection and Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), laid out an ambitious and historic plan to reform the agricultural marketplace. For the first time in our nation’s history, there was to be a joint DOJ/USDA initiative to restore a competitive marketplace for agriculture. Our antitrust laws were finally Read More …

Reforming the Marketplace; What’s Next?

Thomas F. “Fred” Stokes Executive Director In a February 9th letter to Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder, Senators Patrick Leahy and Charles Grassley state; “we would appreciate an update as to what the DOJ and USDA plans for its next steps.” The two senators, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, were referring to following-on actions after the conclusion of last year’s joint DOJ/USDA workshops. “What’s next” seems to be the question on the Read More …