For Immediate Release
July 28, 2021
Contact: John Hansen 402-476-8815 or [email protected]
NeFU Commends Senate Judiciary Committee for its Hearing on Ag Market Concentration
Lincoln, NE. Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU) commended the Senate Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on market concentration in the livestock industry “Beefing Up Competition: Examining America’s Food Supply Chain.”
Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen said, “Let’s hope that today’s refreshing and positive bipartisan support for ag market reform measures is not just political theater and posturing. We need a genuine commitment to re-think failed public federal and state policies, the operating premise of the Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department that encourages market concentration, and the need to update and reinvent the competition enforcement capacity of the 100 year old USDA Packers and Stockyards Administration. President Biden’s Executive Order on Competition should be supported by everyone who supports competition in the market place. It can also be used to speed up the USDA rule making process for clarifying and updating Packers and Stockyards definitions and terms.”
Hansen praised the choice of Hearing witnesses representing agriculture, including NFU President Rob Larew and Jon Schaben, owner of the Dunlap, Iowa and West Point, Nebraska Livestock Auction markets. “They did an outstanding job of explaining how healthy markets should work, the level of concentration in today’s non-competitive livestock markets, and measures that need to be taken to bring competition back to livestock markets. George Slover, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumer Reports provided excellent insights into the benefits of competitive markets and competition legal and policy issues. Today, our independent livestock producers are going broke, meat consumers are getting overcharged, and meatpackers are making excessive profits because of failed government regulatory oversight that favors market consolidation and concentration instead of competition,” Hansen said.
NeFU said in the short term Congress needs to renew the Mandatory Price Reporting authority, and expand and include contract prices as well as cash sales on a daily basis.
NeFU supports asking Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack to undo Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s hurtful movement of USDA Packers and Stockyards from its independent historical housing in USDA into the Agricultural Marketing Service.
NeFU supports re-starting the USDA ag market reform rule making process started by then Secretary of Ag Vilsack in the Obama Administration that were scrapped by Secretary of Ag Perdue scrapped when he walked in the door, and additional provisions to protect livestock producers from meatpacker retaliation for practicing their free speech rights or criticizing non-competitive marketing practices.
Nebraska Farmers Union is a general farm organization with 3,841 farm and ranch family members dedicated to protecting and enhancing the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers and ranchers, and their rural communities. Since 1913, Nebraska Farmers Union has helped organize over 445 cooperatives.