Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) announced today she will file legislation to stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from lining the pockets of global corporations at the expense of U.S. taxpayers and family farmers. Known as the Buy American Agriculture Act, the bill would require that whenever possible, purchases of agricultural commodities made by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) must be from domestically owned enterprises. It would also require the secretary to publish the rationale for awarding the purchasing contracts and whether those enterprises are domestically owned.
Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) extends its gratitude to Representative DeLauro and urges swift passage of the bill, especially as USDA currently plans to award $22 million in U.S. taxpayer funds to one of the largest meatpacking corporations in the world, Brazilian-owned JBS, under the bailout program meant to help American farmers hurt by the trade war. In November 2018, Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods rescinded its bid for bailout money after a backlash on Capitol Hill over the award.
A petition circulated by OCM calling on USDA and Congress to halt payments to the Brazilian behemoth garnered over 1,000 signatures in less than a week. OCM now urges its members and supporters to contact their two U.S. senators and representative and encourage them to co-sponsor the Buy American Agriculture Act.
“We are encouraged that there are some in Washington, D.C. who are listening to U.S. farmers and ranchers, unlike USDA Secretary Perdue who’s lying in the lap of global corporations and putting their interests before those of American farmers and ranchers who are paying a heavy price for this trade war,” said Mike Callicrate, Kansas cattleman, co-founder and board member of the Organization for Competitive Markets. “Foreign-owned, transnational corporations should not be the beneficiary of U.S. tax dollar bailouts, nor any government purchasing program, for that matter. It’s time to stop the forced taxpayer subsidization of the world’s largest, most abusive corporations.”
JBS is the poster child of abusive market power. As one of just four corporations dominating meat processing in the U.S., JBS routinely imports live hogs and cattle from Canada and Mexico, as well as meat products from other countries, and packages them as “Product of U.S.A.”, deceiving U.S. consumers and undermining U.S. farmers in the process. In a decade-long scheme, the meat packer bribed more than 1,800 Brazilian politicians, which JBS admitted helped them take over the U.S. beef market. Meanwhile, in 2017, JBS was caught exporting rotten meat worldwide and trying to cover up the stench using cancer-causing acid products. The same year, Brazil’s environmental regulator determined that JBS was responsible for 84% of livestock coming from illegally deforested lands. Two JBS meatpacking plants were suspended and the company was fined $7.7 million. In 2018, 12 million pounds of JBS ground beef were recalled and 246 people were sickened in the U.S. due to salmonella poisoning. Then, USDA found JBS had ripped off U.S. cattle producers at three separate slaughter facilities by shorting them on payments for their cattle.
It is unconscionable that Brazil’s JBS would now be rewarded for its bad deeds to the tune of $22 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars. OCM encourages everyone to make their voices heard in Washington, D.C.
Organization for Competitive Markets is a national membership-based research and advocacy organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade in America’s food and agricultural sectors.