Billings, Mont. – In comments submitted today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), R-CALF USA accuses the nation’s second- and third-largest beef packers, JBS and Cargill, respectively, of engaging in improper conduct that has harmed family farmers and ranchers. This improper conduct, according to the group, demonstrates why Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue should allow his agency’s interim final rule (IFR) on competitive injury to become effective as quickly as possible.
The IFR clarifies the USDA’s longstanding position that family farmers and ranchers do not first have to prove a harm to competition before they can stop packers from harming them through unfair practices such as fraud or retaliation; or from subjecting them to undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.
In other words, said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, “This IFR clarifies that it is a violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act if packers engage in unfair conduct, regardless if such conduct harms one farmer or rancher or all of them.”
Citing an Alberta newspaper that quoted Cargill spokesman Robert Meijer saying, ‘We will not knowingly purchase or take on or do business with cattle directly or indirectly associated with R-CALF members or those affiliated with R-CALF,’ the group states that Cargill’s openly public retaliation against its members demonstrate that Cargill is a bad actor whose actions highlight the need to implement the IFR.
Citing also its recent request for a probe into the domestic operations of JBS, the group states JBS’s bad acts are revealed by charges from Brazil that JBS entered price agreements to lower livestock prices and sought unlawful advantages through bribery.
The group states that “when two of the four packers that control 85% of the fed cattle market have histories of committing anticompetitive practices against cattlemen . . . the necessity of empowering independent cattlemen to protect themselves against such despicable packer conduct immediately becomes self-evident. Therefore, the Secretary should allow the IFR to become effective as quickly as possible.”
The group also cites the Secretary’s statutory duty to strengthen the nation’s family farm system of agriculture and fully implement the Packers and Stockyards Act as compelling reasons why the IFR should be implemented.
“We are confident that Secretary Perdue will stand up to the packer lobby’s overwhelming display of political and economic power and do what is right for American family farmers and ranchers by allowing the IFR to become effective,” the group concluded.
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R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle industry. For more information, visit www.r-calfusa.com or, call 406-252-2516.