|Rhonda Perry (photo: Mo. |
Rural Crisis Center)
In an unusual display of supporting the "little guy," twenty-one US senators, including Missouri's Claire McCaskill, have signed on to a letter advocating for changes to USDA livestock rules [PDF] that will be the "first step towards leveling the playing field between producers and the packers." The list of senators includes 19 Democrats, 1 Republican, and 1 independent, though another Republican, Senator Bill Bullard, supported the rules change "to restore a fair and just market that will provide economic opportunities for all livestock producers...."
Rhonda Perry, a livestock and grain farmer from Howard County, Missouri, went further than the Senators' support for rules changes: "Now is the time for action. Family farmers and livestock producers need to make their voices heard over the well-heeled lobbyists of the meatpackers. Independent hog and cattle producers in Missouri commend Senator McCaskill for signing-on to the letter and standing up for Missouri's family farmers in support of the rules."
|Photo: Food First|
Judging by the level of opposition to the rules changes by large corporate meat producers like Cargill with $108 billion annual revenue, the rules must be favorable to local, small-to-midsize ranchers. However, an AP article in the Friday, August 27, 2010 Kansas City Star seems to indicate that ranchers were evenly divided over the rules changes. A quick check of articles indicate what advocacy organizations like Western Organization of Resource Councils in Montana and Missouri Rural Crisis Center are promoting. "I'm tired of waiting for the government to do something," says Gilles Stockton, a rancher from Montana. "It's stupid to keep arguing whether there is a problem -- it's obvious there is a problem. We need action from the USDA and DOJ to restore competition in the cattle industry."