Voice from the Ranch: Nebraska Cattle Producer Screwed by JBS Speaks the Truth

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The world’s largest beef processing corporation, JBS, is underpaying family farmers and ranchers for their cattle. Even worse, our government is letting them get away with it.

A recent announcement of yet another case where a JBS meatpacking plant failed to properly weigh and keep track of cattle delivered to its plant resulted in a paltry settlement between JBS and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), highlighting how USDA is failing the American farmer and rancher.

  1. USDA Secretary Perdue withdrew the Farmer Fair Practices Rules that would have given farmers the ability to bring a claim for damages when harmed by meatpackers.
  2. Secretary Perdue eliminated the Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), demoting Packers & Stockyards Act enforcement to a program within the very USDA agency responsible for helping the meatpackers market products, the Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS).
  3. AMS settles complaints against the meatpackers for screwing the producer for pennies on the dollar for the harm they have caused the producer. Where’s the incentive to stop the abuse?

In America, three strikes and you are out. But when it comes to the game that is being played against America’s farmers, they are being allowed to just keep swinging until the farmer is extinct.

Hear from a Nebraska cattle producer who speaks the truth:

I am a small, independent cattle feeder living in Nebraska. I am sharing the attached release, which has been prepared by the USDA, because I am among the feeders impacted by JBS’ unfair, discriminatory business practices.

Unlike large feeders, small feeders are forced to sell over 100,000 head of cattle a week in the carcass. According to my calculations this practice costs me $30 per head or more. This translates to an overall cost to feeders forced to sell in the carcass of as much as $3,000,000 per week. This is before JBS has inaccurately calculated the yield as found by AMS:

“Beginning sometime prior to December 14, 2017, and continuing until on or about March 31, 2018, JBS Swift failed to properly record the weights, grades, and prices of carcasses accurately on accountings issued to sellers. The practice of failing to maintain the identify of beef carcasses purchased on a carcass weight basis at its Grand Island beef plant resulted in paying livestock sellers on inaccurate hot carcass weights and prices and is in violation of section of the Act and regulations.”

AMS has only fined JBS $50,000 for what is a much greater loss to cattle producers. With USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue’s recent elimination of the Grain, Inspection, Packers & Stockyards Administration that was tasked with Packers & Stockyards Act enforcement, understaffed and under-resourced enforcers are ill-equipped to take on a global Goliath such as JBS. Further, Perdue’s withdrawal of the Farmer Fair Practices Rules leaves cattle producers with no recourse to recover our losses.

Steve Krajicek

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