By Barry Borg | Valley City, N.D.
It’s the law – lately, you have no doubt heard, “No one is above the law.” I suppose you have also heard, “Laws were made to be broken.” Which is it and what side are you on? This letter is to address what is going on in the cattle trade.
While visiting with some beef producers, they all agree that they cannot compete or continue at these prices. This letter is to point out that the current price level of live cattle is the result of illegal packer collusion in the kill trade. Even on "Gunsmoke" (the TV show), Matt Dillon said, “Collusion and conspiracy are illegal.”
There is no real competition in the marketplace because the four large international packer firms kill 85% of all cattle. Where are the antitrust laws? The first antitrust law was the Beef Trust. The Packers and Stockyards Act (PSA) came out of the antitrust laws and broke up the large concentration of beef packers at one time.
When was the last antitrust suit against any food processor? I do not know, but I am making the point that the PSA has been ignored for over 60 years. It was passed into law in 1921. In December of 2018, U.S. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue repealed the Farmer Fair Practices rules. Under the guidelines of repealing regulations, he flashed a green light to the big packers to go ahead, do whatever you want, no one will interfere.
PSA is still the law of the land. The ag secretary cannot wipe away legislation with a stroke of a pen.
Another piece of legislation that was repealed is country-of-origin labeling (COOL). This legislation was in the farm bill that George W. Bush signed into law in 2002. It wasn’t funded or enacted for six years and then was repealed after a short period as law of the land. The result of this is that the consumer is buying cheap foreign products and paying inflated prices. The producer gets less and less, and the U.S. cow-calf producer is driven out of business. Then, you dear consumer will have nothing to eat but fake meat and cheap foreign meat, like the rotten beef that came from Brazil. Maybe you never heard about that rotten beef but ate it anyway?
What is the authority’s answer to all of this? So far, all I can see is that they have made the telephone number for the suicide prevention hotline available everywhere. How is that for upholding the law?