Billings, Mont. -- In only his second and third appearances since stepping down from his federal post in January as Administrator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), J. Dudley Butler will be in the Dakotas this month to inform cattle producers about the future competitiveness of the U.S. cattle industry.
Hosted by the Independent Beef Association
of North Dakota (IBAND), the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association (SDSGA), and
R-CALF USA, Butler will first speak to area cattle producers at 7:00 p.m. on
Wednesday, May 16 at the Kist Livestock Auction in Mandan, North Dakota. At 7:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18, Butler will
speak to area producers at the Fort Pierre Livestock Auction, Fort Pierre,
South Dakota. The public is cordially
invited to attend both meetings.
Butler was considered the last of the team
of reformers appointed by the Obama Administration to put an end to antitrust
and anticompetitive practices in the U.S. livestock industry. His resignation was preceded by Christine
Varney, former chief of the U.S. antitrust division for the U.S. Department of
While at his federal post, Butler proposed
a rule to clarify and finally implement provisions within the 90-year-old
Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921 that prohibits the nation's meatpackers from
harming independent livestock producers through unfair, deceptive and
discriminatory cattle-buying practices.
Butler said his proposed rule contained
provisions to "prevent actions by the packers, swine contractors, and live
poultry dealers against family farmers and ranchers such as retaliation, fraud
and bad faith, just to name a few."
But, his proposed rule met a firestorm of
opposition, both from the meatpacking industry and the National Cattlemen's
Beef Association (NCBA). The rule's opponents submitted industry-sponsored
economic studies claiming the rule would cost the industry and the economy
almost $2 billion. However, USDA's chief economist, Joseph Glauber, stated in a
memo that the meatpackers' onerous cost estimate was based on a false
assumption. He stated the meatpackers'
study "inaccurately claims that the proposed rule "relieves plaintiffs from the
burden of proving competitive injury."
Congress was nevertheless swayed by the
meatpackers' study, despite its inaccuracies, and in an unprecedented maneuver,
it cut all funding available to Butler to issue a final rule.
"Independent cattle producers are being
misled by the NCBA's and the meatpackers' old rallying cry that they and the
rest of the cattle industry do not want the government to regulate their
industry," said Butler adding, "But, what they are not telling producers is
that the unregulated control by the meatpackers over independent producers is
far more overreaching and more oppressive than any government regulations. Just
look at the one-sided contracts now prevalent in the poultry and hog
"Opponents to my proposed rule want to sell
the industrialized model of vertical integration, but I wanted to preserve the
independent producer model," concluded Butler.
Kenneth Graner, President of IBAND and
R-CALF USA member, will donate a cow and Allen Badure, member of both the SDSGA
and R-CALF USA, will donate a yearling to be auctioned off in rollover auctions
held in conjunction with the Kist Livestock Auction sale on May 16 and the Fort
Pierre Livestock Auction sale on May 18, respectively, with proceeds going to
support each of the sponsoring organizations.
The meetings will be held in the evenings following the sales.
"Cattle producers deserve to hear first
hand how the proposed GIPSA rule was derailed and what is likely in store for
those of us who are still engaged in the business of ranching," said Graner,
adding, "These meetings will give producers a chance to learn first-hand about
the power struggles that are shaping the future of our industry and what they
need to do to ensure the outcome of that struggle is one that allows us to
continue ranching as independent producers.
"We are excited to host former GIPSA
Administrator Dudley Butler in South Dakota so that our producers can
understand the struggles that Dudley and others faced in their fight to help us
reform our livestock markets," said Shane Kolb, President of the SDSGA. "The
fight for fair and competitive markets in the cattle industry did not go away when
GIPSA rules weren't implemented. The
lack of competition in our livestock markets will continue to have a
significant impact on the viability of our family farms and ranches. We have to continue pursuing these policy
changes for the future of our rural communities."
"About 250 people attended Dudley Butler's recent presentation in O'Neill, Nebraska, and we are still receiving calls from producers who said it was one of the most informative and eye-opening meetings they had ever attended," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, "If you're in the ranching business and want to stay, these are must-attend meetings."
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