January 25, 2016
It can be said by those in the livestock industry that these are the worst of times. Whether you are an American cattleman, hog producer or poultry grower, you have felt the continued squeeze on your bottom line. It is beyond anything you have had to endure in the past. It is clear the big packers, through their industrial factory farming practices, have tightened their stranglehold on our markets driving down farm gate income.
The assault on our friends and neighbors who struggle to keep the doors open on their independent processing plants has been painful to witness. Whether it is burdensome regulations supported by the big packers or the packers’ and big food companies’ abuse in the market place, independent processors are taking it on the chin.
With more and more of our small and medium-sized feedlots being driven out of business and with a push to infuse our markets with foreign beef, cattlemen have experienced losses well over $500 dollars per head.
With Brazilian JBS buying out more of America’s beef markets and infrastructure along with China buying out Smithfield and becoming the largest pork producer in the U.S., it may seem like there is no chance to turn back the tide that is destroying our domestic food system.
However, it can also be said it is the best of times. At no time in the history of our country has there been more consumer interest in what is happening to America’s traditional agriculture. As our farmers have been driven off their farms and out of their businesses, millions of America’s eaters are ready to join our fight.
Seizing on this new consumer momentum, OCM launched a new National Collaboration made up of some of our nation’s leading thinkers and organizations. The members of this effort stand ready to increase our ranks as we continue our fight.
Through this collaboration, we have won two rounds of court battles, putting us on the path to take away the National Pork Producers Council’s sweetheart deal which has illegally secured them $60 million of the hog producers’ mandatory checkoff taxes.
Fighting to disclose the “cover up” of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association abuse of the $80 million per year in Beef Checkoff taxes, OCM filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act. Through this effort, thousands of never disclosed documents are being released. While we fully expect to have to take additional legal action, we are winning and NCBA feels the heat.
Successes like these at the national level have caused individuals like JBS’s Chandler Keys to call on state NCBA affiliates to look to the states for increased checkoff funding. Therefore, we must take our fight to the states. Joe Logan, President of Ohio Farmers Union and OCM Board Member, is providing leadership and guidance in Ohio. At the state level, we are demanding the checkoff tax be considered government funds, which the U.S. Supreme Court has already determined. In doing so, we are pushing for these tax dollars to be appropriated by the states and subject to state audits.
We need to commend our National Collaboration’s Ending-Checkoff-Abuses Working Group, led by Board Member Fred Stokes and OCM member Joe Maxwell. They are taking the fight to our opponents on all fronts.
Under the leadership of OCM Board Member Mike Weaver, who is also President of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, OCM is taking the fight straight to the heart of the industrial factory farming model–Big Chicken. We are proud of Mike Weaver and our National Collaboration members for showing the American consumers the plight of the American poultry grower.
Our success on this front will not only help America’s poultry growers, it will also send a message that we have the manpower to take on the menace of “chickenization” of America’s agriculture in all sectors, including beef.
As part of this effort, Mike Weaver is heading up our National Collaboration’s Chickenization Working Group, which is intended to ensure our children have “Good, Fair and Healthy” food. With other members of our National Collaboration, we have joined the Good Food Purchasing Policy campaign. Winning a first-round battle in Los Angeles, we are ensuring taxpayers’ money goes to purchase food that meets high standards of fairness, including treatment of workers, farmers and ranchers, and other food producers, along with high standards for animal welfare.
At the same time, Board Member Paul Muegge is leading OCM’s charge to stop Oklahoma’s “Right to Farm.” We know it as industrial agriculture’s “Right to Harm.” This issue is on the Oklahoma ballot in November 2016. If passed, it would give industrial factory farming companies a constitutional right to exploit farmers, abuse animals, pollute water and the environment, and destroy rural communities. A similar proposal has been introduced in Nebraska. Threats to our freedom and well-being like the “Right to Farm,” already passed in Missouri, must be stopped.
These are some of the important issues OCM has been working on during the past year and will continue to work on in 2016. What will you do in 2016 to help? Will you renew your membership to OCM? Will you become a new member of OCM? Will you join the Checkoff Abuse Working Group or the Chickenization Working Group? We need your help.
This is your fight! Join it today!