U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance;

Thomas F. “Fred” Stokes
Executive Director

Seeking to help U. S. farmers and ranchers
or bent on selling the industrial model to a skeptical
public?

When I first saw the list of the founding members of the new U. S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, all sorts of alarm bells went off. The list includes such groups as;
American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), American Soybean Association (ASA), Cattlemen’s
Beef Board(CBB), Federation of State Beef Councils (FSBC), National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and United Soybean Board (USB).

These folks are not “farmers and ranchers”. These are the people who put family farmers
and ranchers out of business! This is an alliance only of the sorts of groups that preach
“get-big-or-get-out” and “efficiency through scale and vertical-integration.”

This group’s stated mission is to “strengthen the image of agriculture and enhance public trust in today’s best production practices”. We have long known why they want to do this – consumers distrust the big agribusiness firms. Now at last we know how they plan to do it – by pretending to be the exact opposite of what they really are.

This isn’t smart branding. It is Orwellian doublespeak.

Membership in this confederation goes for $5,000. It costs $50,000 for a seat on the
board. Current board includes members from the Beef Checkoff, Beef Federation, National
Milk, National Pork Producers, Poultry & Egg, Neb. Soybean Assoc., Iowa Soybean Board, IL Soybean Assoc, and MN Soybean Council. Executive members of the board include: Bob Stallman of AFBF; Phil Bradshaw of Soybean Checkoff; Bart Schott of NCGA; Dale Norton of Pork Checkoff; Gene Gregory of United Egg; and Forrest Roberts of NCBA.

This cabal does not epitomize farmers and ranchers. All this cabal has done is shamelessly appropriate the image of the farmer and rancher. The group has retained Drake and Company
as their contractor and the Ketchum PR firm as its communications agency. The strategic plan calls for; “driving the USFRA mission to strengthen the image of agriculture and enhance public trust in today’s best production practices”.

If you swap out the words “best production practices” and substitute the words “most predatory political practices” then you will begin to get an idea of what’s really going
on here.

And this assault on the American family farm is coming on fast and hard. The project launch date is reported to be mid-July. And the group reportedly already has $10,000,000 in the bank, and has announced a first year funding goal of $20,000,000, while $30,000,000 budgets are considered possible in future years.

Right now, Farm Credit and The Fertilizer Institute are the only two big business($500,000) members. But others are expected to be announced in coming weeks. The goal is to recruit companies such as ADM, Cargill, Monsanto and DuPont.

The Cattlemen’s Beef Board is in for $250,000 and it seems likely that other commodity Checkoff funds have also contributed to the $10,000,000 currently in the bank. If anything, this is the greatest outrage of all, as the Board is misappropriating Checkoff funds, paid by real farmers and ranchers, to pursue an effort that would put those very same farmers and ranchers out of business.

I see the USFRA as an audacious attempt to finish the task of “chickenizing” American agriculture, and of turning the American farmer once and for all into a serf.

This is a tragedy, a grave political danger to the United States of America, and a direct threat to our security. The family farm system has served this country well. We abandon it at our national peril. Already, thanks to replacing many commercial scale family farms with corporate mega farms and monoculture, the former breadbasket to the world has become
a net food importer.

It’s not even good economics. The new system, with its massive scale and its dominance by transnational corporations, claims to be justified through efficiency of scale. If claims of efficiency of scale are credible, why do these firms claim a larger share of the food dollars with their increase in size? Seems to me to be market power rather than efficiency.

Further, this model will drive most of the entrepreneurial spirit out of farming. After all, replacing the family farm and ranch with a big agribusiness model would take away exactly the independence and freedom that attracts folks to farming and ranching in the first place.

The U. S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance does not represent the voice or interest of farmers, ranchers or rural America. It is a sinister and deceitful scheme and deserves the strongest possible opposition from consumers and those who till the land and tend the
herds.FS


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