The Last Frontier II

By Vaughn Meyer – Nov 5, 2010

Throughout history “The Last Frontier” has been associated with the settling of the West during the 19th century. As children this time frame of history was narrated through history books and multi generation family recollections. Probably some of the most vivid attributes to this period were the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, the Indian – Whiteman wars, the large cattle barons, huge cattle drives and our very own roughrider president, Teddy Roosevelt.

Near the end of the 1800s we witnessed a new policy of Homesteading which introduced the concept of family production agriculture. This introduction of family ownership and management of agriculture created more incentive for individual achievement and our industry flourished. As agriculture grew it stimulated creativity on the national level which economically and industrially established the U.S. as a world leader.

However as the number of family farms and livestock numbers increased and competition for our product decreased, Congress realizing the need for competition and fair markets for our livestock drafted the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. As the 20th century drew to a close it became apparent to livestock producers that without tools for the enforcement of the P&S Act we still remained at the mercy of the anti competitive practices of the packers.

However during the 2008 Farm Bill debate our Congressional leaders also became aware of the need for rules to enforce competition in the market place and the need to restore fairness within our industry. They commanded the USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) under the leadership of GIPSA Administrator Mr. J Dudley Butler to draft rules to enforce the P&S Act. Nearly two years later Mr. Butler and his staff have addressed the congressional mandate and proposed new rules known as the GIPSA Rules.

As with all new game rules which are directed at leveling the playing field the opponents are those who possessed an unchecked advantage over other key players. In this case the packing industry, through its affiliated voices of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the American Meat Institute (AMI), has realized a 90 year old reign over the production side of our industry. They are squealing louder than stuck hogs and labeling Administrator Butler and his GIPSA rules as the destruction of the industry.

In a recent attempt to degrade Mr. Butler’s motives they portray him as a litigation happy trial lawyer who is attempting to drum up business for his post GIPSA years. Mr. Butler and his boss, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, have been accused of being indifferent for not considering the request by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and 114 other congressmen to delay the GIPSA rule with another economic analysis study. They also connect him to a few so called “other liberal – leaning cattle organizations”.

What critics of Administrator Butler fail to mention is that similar to the other 955,000 livestock producers Mr. J. Dudley Butler is a producer from Mississippi and a former ranch partner from Wyoming. As a fellow producer from S.D. maybe we should look at the producer side of this GIPSA Administrator like:

MAYBE… Mr. J Dudley Butler possesses compassion for his fellow livestock producers as he has witnessed the individual sorrow and defeat of the 370,000 producers and their spouses and children as they lost their livelihoods!

MAYBE… J Dudley Butler has witnessed the hunger and suffering of children in other countries who have insufficient production agriculture!

MAYBE… J Dudley Butler has experienced first hand the destruction of family enterprise hog and poultry farming and wishes to prevent the same coercion and threats from raping the cattle industry!

MAYBE… Mr. J Dudley Butler foresees the 20% drop in producer carcass share over the past 20 years is correlated to the smallest U.S. cow herd since 1952 which will have a profound effect on the future safety and procurement of our nation’s food supply!

MAYBE… Mr. J Dudley Butler noticed that Senate Ag Chairman Collin Peterson and his 114 colleges were the recipients of over $48.6 million of Agri Pac campaign contributions!

MAYBE… Mr. J Dudley Butler has observed the past 90 years of unchecked pilfering of our industry by the packing industry and affiliates and he realizes a change to honest moral values is necessary for the survival of agriculture!

JUST MAYBE… Mr. J Dudley Butler notices the similarities of the “Last Frontier” of the 1800’s and the “Last Frontier” of the present beef industry which ironically is precipitated by the same packing industry. Possible he also recognizes that a United States without a viable livestock industry to spur prosperity in our cities may well become the “Last Frontier” of the world!

In summary, Mr. Paul Engler of Cactus Feeders testified in Ft. Collins that as a child he bought his first calves to feed and today he feeds millions annually. Just maybe Mr. J Dudley Butler, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and US Attorney General Eric Holder realize that that would not be possible in today’s broken market system. Just maybe they and hundreds of thousands of fellow producers are attempting to salvage a market system that will provide similar opportunities for future generations!

As livestock producers we can restore U.S. family agriculture and rebuild our rural communities through comments of support for the GIPSA rule at comments.gipsa@usda.gov

Or Fax to 202-690-2173, or at the Federal e-rulemaking portal http://www.regulations.gov

Thank you.

Vaughn Meyer, a concerned livestock producer

Reva, SD