August 16, 2012
Kansas City, MO – Proponents of independent family farm and ranch agriculture met this past weekend at the Organization for Competitive Markets’ “Voices Rise From The Land,” 14th annual meeting. The conference began at a Thursday evening press conference with President Fred Stokes announcing litigation seeking a halt to the flow of money to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association from the cattlemen’s beef checkoff. The suit names the United States Department of Agriculture, Cattleman’s Beef Promotion and Research Board, Beef Promotion Operating Committee, Agricultural Marketing Service, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack as defendants. Cattleman and OCM Vice President, Mike Callicrate is the named plaintiff in the litigation. The suit asks for a permanent injunction on checkoff funds flowing to NCBA, which cattle producers see as a policy organization with views contrary to independent producers who are forced to pay into the checkoff fund. The suit does not seek monetary damages. Attorney Dan Owen of the law firm Polsinelli Shugart P.C. located in Kansas City, MO is the counsel of record.
Day two of the conference featured a long list of distinguished speakers, including Dudley Butler; former GIPSA Administrator, Dr. Robert Taylor; Professor of Agricultural Policy at Auburn University, and Barry Lynn; author and senior fellow at Washington DC’s nonpartisan public policy think tank the New America Foundation. Butler began the day’s presentations by defending OCM’s criticized association with the Humane Society of the United States. Butler made it clear that HSUS is an “animal welfare organization, not an animal rights group.” He further explained that HSUS’s involvement was a much-needed coordinated effort between two organizations both fighting to save the family farm, not the deceptive plot promoted by misguided industry spokesmen that HSUS is tricking OCM into helping destroy animal agriculture. Stokes later added that HSUS did much of the heavy lifting in analyzing the evidence and preparing the case.
Dr. Taylor’s presentation began with an excerpt of the Grange’s 1874 Declaration asserting that “We are not enemies to capital, but we oppose the tyranny of monopolies.” The sentiment of this selection was not one solely held by Dr. Taylor—the quote set the tone for the discussions that were to follow, uniting conference attendees behind the belief that the only sustainable market is a truly competitive one. Barry Lynn wrapped up the day’s presentations with a warning to those willing to take few pennies now in doing the “devils work”, while becoming “subjects” under government/corporate monopoly power. Instead, he said, we should reject the “efficiency” lie and once again act like “citizens,” participating fully in government. Lynn went on to add, “This fight is about liberty, not stuff.”
Saturday marked the end of the conference with a member’s meeting and the election of a new president and vice president. Cattlemen Mike Callicrate was chosen as the new OCM president and Nebraska Farmers Union president John Hansen was elected vice president. Both individuals are highly regarded champions of family agriculture.
Organization For Competitive Markets
P.O. Box 6486
Lincoln, NE 68506
Mike Callicrate can be reached at 785-332-8218