Billings, Mont. - Yesterday, national cattle association R-CALF USA, along with over 15 state and local groups representing America's cattle ranchers, joined in a letter with 210 organizations to send a strong message to Congress as deliberations begin on the 2018 Farm Bill.
"Our message tells Congress it's time to quit kowtowing to multinational agribusinesses at the expense of America's family farmers and ranchers, workers and consumers," said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard adding, "In short, our message is that Congress must begin putting America's interest ahead of the interests of multinational corporations."
The joint letter addresses several key issues that the groups say are contributing to the decline in the number of American ranches. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show the number of U.S. cattle ranches have declined over 40 percent since large agribusiness corporations began their merger and acquisition frenzy in the 80s.
The letter states the recent financial crisis proves bigger is better; that allowing a few large corporations to concentrate and consolidate agricultural markets is putting the nation and its citizens in jeopardy.
It states the government must begin enforcing America's antitrust laws to restore competition in America's agricultural markets.
It urges Congress to stop large meatpackers from manipulating livestock markets with their anticompetitive purchasing practices that harm both ranchers and consumers.
The letter encourages Congress to reinstate country of origin labeling (COOL) by stating that Congress must "set clear labeling standards to give consumers information about the origin and production methods associated with the food they purchase.
"Congress should reject attempts by agribusinesses to undermine proper market functioning with their arguments against fair, open and transparent markets and labeling," the groups assert.
The groups further emphasis putting America first by stating foreign ownership of U.S. agriculture is undermining U.S. farm income and draining resources from rural communities. This "should raise alarm bells," the letter states.
Other cattle associations joining the letter with R-CALF USA include: American Grassfed Association; Buckeye Quality Beef (Ohio); Cattle Producers of Louisiana; Cattle Producers of Washington; Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association; Independent Beef Association of North Dakota; Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska; Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming; International Texas Longhorn Association; Kansas Cattlemen's Association; Missouri's Best Beef Co-Op.; Murray County, Oklahoma, Independent Cattlemen's Association; Northern Wisconsin Beef Producers Association; Oglala Stock Growers and Landowners Association; Range Allotment Owners Association; and South Dakota Stockgrowers Association.
Source: R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America) is the largest producer-only cattle trade association in the United States. It is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring the continued profitability and viability of the U.S. cattle and sheep industries.