In this file:
· Commentary: Industry Insiders Doing the Bidding Of Agribusiness Again!
· Commentary: Identity Theft: How #FairCattleMarkets Was Hijacked
Commentary: Industry Insiders Doing the Bidding Of Agribusiness Again!
Wes Shoemyer, Commentary, Drovers
October 8, 2019
The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Wes Shoemyer, a farmer from Monroe County, Missouri.
In a big ag hit piece “Identity Theft: How #FairCattleMarkets Was Hijacked” published in Drovers October 3rd, the authors (Kate Miller and Kim Hardan) attacked me and many I call friends. For folks who claim they want to include all kinds of farmers, they sure don’t seem to like anyone who speaks out against corporate power and corruption.
The most noticeable fact in their personal “hit” job is that the authors did not challenge a single policy position that those named to include myself are fighting for and that were laid out at the Rally to Stop the Stealin’ in Omaha. We were calling on President Trump and Secretary Perdue to stop the USMCA deal if it doesn’t include country of origin labeling on beef and pork, to stop foreign meat from entering this country and being relabeled as “Product of the USA”, to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act and stand up to the 4 giant meatpackers who control over 80% of beef in this country to stop stealin' from family farmers and ranchers.
As to the authors’ personal attacks, as a farmer and cattle producer, I’m sick and tired of being told that my checkoff dollars being used against me isn’t a rigged system that needs reform. I’m sick and tired of being told if I speak out against big meatpackers that I’m a threat to the industry. I’m sick and tired of being told that consumers don’t have a right to know what country their beef came from. I’m sick and tired of being told that if I don’t agree with an organization 100% I can’t work with them where we have common ground.
Industry insiders constantly try to sling mud and make people like me out to be an evil supervillain to keep the rest of the farmers and ranchers from focusing on the real issues. We are getting screwed by the packer monopolies. They are the real enemy not each other.
When I served in the Missouri State Legislature I was a fierce advocate for independent family farmers. I worked with allies with a wide range of backgrounds and ideologies to fight the concentration of power within our food system and the extraction of wealth from our rural communities. As I continued that fight I have found that many times those that claim to be the voice of agriculture are really the voice of big food monopolies, like JBS, who are increasingly foreign-owned, trying to keep farmers and ranchers in line and our hand out of their profit jar.
I find it alarming that the authors turned their pen on me...
Commentary: Identity Theft: How #FairCattleMarkets Was Hijacked
Kate Miller And Kim Hardan, Drovers
October 3, 2019
Note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Kate Miller and Kim Hardan, and do not necessarily represent the views of Drovers or Farm Journal. Miller, is a third-generation rancher, a tenured meat sales professional and has a background in trade development. Hardan grew up on a livestock operation in Washington and completed an Animal Science degree at Texas A&M University. For the last ten years, she has been a successful protein salesman in food service in the Texas market.
The Organization for Competitive Markets hosted a rally and meeting to ‘Stop the Stealin’! in Omaha, Neb., on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. This event created a social media firestorm, with enthusiastic producers from multiple states heading to the event. The immensely popular #FairCattleMarkets campaign by the Western Ag Reporter was originally started to draw the industry together and create momentum towards initiating simple changes to improve the marketplace for all cattlemen.
According to a source from within the Western Ag Journal, they were not a sponsor of the rally in Omaha and no members of their staff attended as participants. So how did their hard-won brand equity and grassroots campaign become the centerpiece slogan for a fringe association rally?
Following the announcement of the itinerary for the Omaha gathering, some troubling patterns emerged. If this is meant to be a rally for independent producers and feedlots in the heart of Trump- supporting farm country, perhaps we should better understand a few of the sponsoring and participating voices.
Who is the Organization for Competitive Markets?
The Organization for Competitive Markets was founded in 1998 to address the growing inequities between family farmers and agribusiness in the food sector, according to their website. OCM has been involved in a multi-year battle to reform the Beef Checkoff program. According to their own website, OCM began accepting pro bono legal services provided for by the Humane Society of the United States. Searching through HSUS 990 disclosures revealed the involvement of the Humane Society predates the legal services, as HSUS awarded OCM $20,750 in 2012 for a conference sponsorship.
The Humane Society of the United States has long been a front-running voice in ending meat consumption and agribusiness in the United States. Their own website lists Eating Humanely as one of their top fights, inspiring people to consume less meat by promoting a meatless diet as a healthier, more sustainable, less expensive and more humane dietary choice.
OCM’s co-founder and board member, Mike Callicrate, has deep ties with the organization. He is a member of the Humane Society of the United States Agriculture Advisory Board, the Humane Society of Colorado Agriculture Advisory Board and on his personal website he list HSUS in his Alliances with Food and Water Watch, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and my personal favorite: Fix Food--- a group that wrote a scathing dissent on the Dodge Ram Super Bowl Commercial, fear mongers about ‘super bugs’ caused by antibiotic use in agriculture and is apparently anti GMO’s.
The Executive Director of the Organization for Competitive Markets is Joe Maxwell, the former Vice President of Outreach and Engagement for the Humane Society of the United States and the self-pro-claimed defeater of Oklahoma’s Right to Farm Bill.
Angela Huffman, OCM’s Communications and Research Director, was the Market Development Coordinator for Rural Development and Outreach for the Humane Society of the United States.
Callicrate, OCM and SRAP vs Missouri Family Farmer
With the heavy-hitting line up of HSUS advocates at the helm, what does the Organization for Competitive Markets stand for? Their ‘About Us’ Section details a noble endeavor: “OCM was founded on the premise that independent farmers and ranchers must ultimately survive and prosper by receiving fair and adequate compensation for their products through the marketplace.”
But mounting evidence shows allegiance with organizations, aside from HSUS, who have fingerprints on putting those very independent ranchers out of business. As evidenced by the case of Valley Oaks Steak Company.
Valley Oaks Steak Company, a third generation family owned beef operation in Missouri, was forced to immediately close their facility after announcing plans to expand. The feedlot operation had filed a proposal to move from 999 head to 6,999 operational capacity, and then was viciously attacked from special interest groups—including having cattle shot. Valley Oaks was an organization that sought to do things the right way, as a local family owned venture they were attempting to reinvest their local dollars back into their community to add jobs and a local market choice for Kansas City area residents.
Valley Oaks sold Angus bulls to local ranchers and purchased calves back as part of a buy-back program. The cattle were fed and processed in Lone Jack, Missouri, and sold online, in retail outlets and marketed as a farm-to-table option for Kansas City restaurants.
Yet after the expansion petition was filed a local chapter of the SRAP organization was formed: the Lone Jack Neighbors for Responsible Agriculture. According to a press release, Terry Spence, the Executive Director of SRAP and Missouri native, was credited with the decision to involve Powell Gardens for additional funding and to garner public support to fight the expansion.
SRAP and LJNRA are outspoken in its fight against Concentrated Animal Feeding Units or CAFO’s, the distinctive and prejudicial title is applied without discrimination to all feedlot operations—as they remove animals from their ‘natural habitat’ into a concentrated confinement area. SRAP has deep ties with leading anti-agriculture associations such as the Sierra Club and the Humane Society of the United States, as many of their board members and staff have been awarded achievement awards for their services from these organizations.
But how is the failure of a third-generation family ranching operation’s intent to expand into a regional packer connected to the Organization for Competitive Markets? In theory this operation would be an ideal representation of a family-owned feeding and packing company that could have provided Missouri and Kansas cattlemen an opportunity to market cattle outside the alleged monopoly conditions that OCM claims exist.
The mounting list of evidence:
more, including links