What a year! 2019 wraps up as one of OCM’s most successful yet. We exposed and challenged JBS’ corrupt monopoly power, the injustice in the market with the repeal of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, how farmers’ checkoff dollars are being pocketed by industrialized agriculture lobbying groups, and how global corporations and foreign countries are buying up America’s farmland, disadvantaging U.S. farmers and ranchers. With your help we have taken on the food and agriculture monopolies, and they are feeling the sting of the punches we are throwing. Read on to see the highlights:
Shaping the Public Discourse
- Using our sound research, OCM has brought key anti-monopoly issues into the light of day. OCM has elevated the conversation to a national level, garnering the attention of major U.S. news outlets including Fox News, CNN, USA Today, The Washington Post, Politico, and NPR. See our media coverage here.
- With this earned attention, OCM has become a go-to organization for issue background and policy proposals for reporters and policy makers of both major political parties, to include those seeking higher office. This past year, some of the national leaders taking action on our proposals included Senators Rubio, Menendez, Lee, Paul, Booker, Warren, Tester, and Grassley, and Representatives DeLauro, Pocan, Pingree, and Kaptur. We thank them for going up against the monopolists and standing with family farmers.
Taking it on the Road
- Over 20 organizations and 400 ranchers came together in Omaha for our Rally to Stop the Stealin’! Together we raised our voices to demand the firing of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and six actions the Trump Administration must take to right the cattle markets and ensure fair prices for producers. Read more on CNN.
- As a result of a recent OCM lawsuit, the USDA announced it would issue new Packers and Stockyards Act rules critical to protecting livestock and poultry farmers from illegal and unfair corporate business practices, including retaliation. Alongside our allies, OCM went on the offense and quickly organized and co-hosted a press conference and Congressional Briefing in Washington, D.C., setting out our demands. We were successful in getting a bipartisan letter issued to USDA from U.S. Senators Grassley, Tester, Congresswoman Kaptur, and 14 of their colleagues. Read more in Tri-State Livestock News.
- Our 21st Annual Food and Agriculture Conference, “Arming the Movement for Independent Family Agriculture,” gathered more than 80 experts and advocates from across the movement for economic justice in farming and food. Participants were introduced to an innovative conference format, where we learned from national leaders and then took part in building next year’s strategic planning for merger-moratorium, checkoff program reform, and messaging corporate power campaigns. Read more in Ag Journal.
Progress on Anti-Monopoly Policy
- In an effort to provide clear and convincing evidence for the need to reform U.S. anti-monopoly laws and increase enforcement, OCM developed a strategy to investigate and call out the most egregious actors. Our research led us straight to Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS. By bribing over 1,800 Brazilian politicians, JBS secured the funding necessary to become one of the biggest beef, poultry, and pork processors in the U.S., which further concentrated the meat industry and denied farmers and ranchers a fair price. OCM’s effort gave Senators Rubio and Menendez the evidence they needed to call for a federal investigation of JBS. Watch more on Fox News.
- Building on a strong foundation of national, regional, and state organizations, OCM and over 200 other stakeholders were able to secure the re-introduction of The Food and Agribusiness Merger and Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act, sponsored in the U.S. Senate by Senators Booker and Tester and in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Pocan. Read more in Farm Progress.
- In addition to co-hosting a Washington, D.C. press conference and Congressional Briefing that led to a bipartisan Congressional letter calling for Packers and Stockyards Act reform, OCM worked with the Stand with Farm Families coalition to secure over 80,000 individual signatures on a petition calling on USDA to do the right thing by poultry and livestock producers. OCM is poised to help others draft and submit comments when USDA issues the new rules. Read more in Feedstuffs.
Exposing Industrialized Agriculture’s Abuse of Checkoff Dollars
- In our five-year court battle, OCM continued to demand the release of over 10,000 beef checkoff program financial and audit documents to the public. While USDA continues to drag its feet, OCM will not stop until the documents are made public so America’s cattle producers know the truth about how their hard-earned checkoff dollars are being spent. Our continued fight for meaningful checkoff reform helped lead the way for U.S. Senators Lee, Paul, Booker, and Warren to re-file a comprehensive commodity checkoff reform bill. Read more in Drovers.
- To provide policymakers with deeper insight into the abuses of the checkoff programs, OCM focused its research and communications on the structure and administration of the largest checkoff program – dairy, and the most abusive – beef:
- Our research revealed a rigged system that all but guarantees National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) the lion’s share of the beef checkoff funds. Read more in the Oklahoma Farm Report.
- To demonstrate how NCBA’s state affiliates are co-conspirators in this scandalous rigged system, OCM, in conjunction with the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, researched and published a policy briefing paper that we released at a press conference at the Kansas statehouse. Read more in the Topeka Capital-Journal.
- While dairy farmers are going bankrupt in record numbers, OCM helped expose how executives of the dairy checkoff contractor, Dairy Management Inc., make millions in salaries. One of those executives is former USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who takes in $1 million in salaries and benefits. Read more in USA Today.
Fighting for Fair Trade Policy
- OCM has never wavered in supporting and demanding mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). As explained in our trade agreement summary, the best opportunity the Trump Administration had to remedy the repeal of COOL on behalf of cattle and hog producers was in its negotiations for the new NAFTA, the USMCA. The Administration could have–and should have–made COOL authority a top priority in its trade negotiations, but it did not. Read more in Farm Progress.
- Following up on OCM’s pending petition to USDA Food Safety Inspection Services to stop imported meat from being labeled “Product of U.S.A.,” OCM called out USDA for doling out trade-war farmer bailout dollars to foreign corporations. Under pressure from U.S. Senator Grassley, China’s Smithfield stepped back from taking USDA’s offer of taxpayer dollars. But corrupt JBS took over $70 million in trade-war funds, all the while making millions in the global market selling pork to China. Congresswoman DeLauro answered OCM’s call for action, filing the Buy American Agriculture Act to strip USDA of the ability to pay foreign companies. Read more in the Washington Post.
Together, we made this happen. Building on this momentum, 2020 can prove to be even better. Will you join the fight? Please consider joining OCM, renewing your membership or making a year-end donation today. Thank you for all you do.