What We Do
Build a robust and reliable collective that holds the government accountable to principles of transparent, competitive markets and corrects imbalances of power in the agricultural sector.
Moratorium on Food and Ag Mega-Mergers
OCM supported the drafting of the Food and Agribusiness Merger Moratorium and Antitrust Review Act of 2018. The proposed federal legislation would place an 18-month moratorium on large agribusiness, food and beverage manufacturing, and grocery retail mergers and acquisitions and would establish a commission to review mergers, concentration and market power in those sectors. Now that the legislation is filed in Congress, we are focused on the important work of building advocacy power to counter the undue influence of special interests in government and support the passage of the legislation through the House and Senate. The government must own its role in safeguarding transparency and competitivity in the agricultural marketplace.
Checkoff Program Reform
OCM has long been a leader in the effort to reform the federal commodity checkoff programs which lack transparency and accountability to the farmers and ranchers mandated to pay into the programs. Our campaign takes a three-pronged approach, working through litigation, federal legislation, and advocating for state level reforms. OCM is the plaintiff in a lawsuit calling for the release of beef checkoff program spending information that is being withheld by the government on behalf of industry special interests. We are also advocating for federal legislation that would reform the federal checkoff programs to prohibit lobbying, rein in conflicts of interest, and stop anti-competitive activities. Finally, OCM is leading a call on State Auditors, Attorneys General and Budget Committees to audit the federal beef checkoff dollars at the state level. The government continues to shun its role in checkoff program oversight. Worse, it conducts audits and then refuses to release them. Once again, we call on the government to free itself from the undue influence of special interests and own its role in safeguarding transparency and competitivity in the agricultural marketplace.
Enforcing the Packers & Stockyards Act
OCM is building collective power in support of marketplace safeguards, known as GIPSA and the Farmer Fair Practices Rules, that would strengthen the Packers & Stockyards Act (P&S Act). The government used to honor its role in safeguarding transparency and competitivity in the agricultural marketplace. In 1921, in an attempt to right the market and to ensure consumers and farmers were treated fairly, the U.S. Congress passed P&S Act. With the enforcement of this new law, by 1976, the Big Four meat companies only controlled about 25% of a market that was both fair and transparent. Unfortunately, since then, the government has reneged on its responsibilities. The courts narrowed the enforcement ability of the P&S Act, and by the mid-90s, the Big Four meatpacking companies controlled about 80% of the market. We are working to create a world where family farmers and their rural communities thrive, where government works for the people and not corporations, and family farmers and finally have the political, economic and social power to push back against transnational corporations.
Country of Origin Labeling
OCM is working for the reinstatement of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling and to ensure honest use of the voluntary “Product of U.S.A.” label. In 2018, OCM and the American Grassfed Association filed a petition with the United States Department of Agriculture to ensure only U.S. domestic meat products could be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” By upholding a loose legal definition of “Product of U.S.A.” the government disregards consumer rights for transparency. Further, the government deprives producers of the ability to honestly differentiate their products, which gives transnational companies yet one more tool to toughen their stranglehold on the market. We’ve committed to the hard work of dismantling the undue power of transnational companies over our farms and our communities.
Farm-to-Institution Market Reform
OCM is a founding member of the Community Coalition for Real Meals and its Real Meals Campaign. We are fighting against the practice of kickbacks in the farm-to-institution market chain. Kickbacks are a key means for the distributor oligarchy to collect and maintain power. The government has ignored or failed to disrupt the distributors’ oligarchical structure but we refuse the normalization of power imbalances in the agricultural marketplace. Let’s put direct pressure on distributors and end kickbacks!