South Dakota Stockgrowers report on Washington, D.C. trip
December 21, 2010
South Dakota Stockgrowers President Kenny Fox, Belvidere, SD; Marketing Chairman Vaughn Meyer, Reva, SD; and Region III Vice President Bob Fortune returned Dec. 10 from a trip to Washington, D.C. where they participated in the final Department of Justice/USDA Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) workshop.
The D.C. workshop was the fifth in a series of workshops throughout the country in 2010. In March a workshop was held in Ankeny, IA to address concerns from grain/seed and hog producers; in May, Normal AL conducted a poultry workshop; June was a dairy workshop in Madison, WI; a beef workshop was held in Ft. Collins, CO in August. The main theme of the fifth workshop was the disparity between producer prices and consumer prices.
Meyer was on a panel and had this to say: “In the 1970 Farm to Retail spread of 98 cents; farmers received 38 cents (39 percent) and wholesalers received 60 cents (61 percent). In 2002 the Farm to Retail Spread was $1.22 – farmers received 22 cents (18 percent) and the wholesalers received $1.00 (82 percent). In other words, farmers lost 20 percent of the Farm to Retail spread while wholesalers gained 20 percent.”
He added: “This same Farm to Retail Spread for the first 9 months of 2010 was $2.40. The farm share was 32.1 cents or 13.3 percent.” This, of course, would leave the wholesalers with almost 87 percent of the Farm to Retail Spread.
Meyer said “This downward trend is representative of livestock producers’ plight of not being able to control our pricing structure for our product to cover mounting input costs. This is indicative of the unfair advantage the packing industry maintains over production agriculture and is reflected in the loss of 12,000 producers and their families annually. In Rural America we are constantly reminded of this 25 percent loss of the consumer dollar as we drive down boarded up main streets that 40 years ago were the social centers of our communities.
Fox spoke from the floor in support of the proposed GIPSA rule and also stated that they had huge support from consumers at this workshop.
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Fox, Fortune and Meyer were included in a meeting with Food and Water Watch, a non-profit organization that advocates for common sense policies that result in healthy, safe food and water. Food and Water Watch is a strong supporter of the GIPSA rule.
The trio also met with staff members from Senator Johnson and Senator Thune’s offices and also met with Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary Department of Agriculture and John Ferrell, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“In these meetings several issues were discussed, including the Over 30 Month Rule, which allows cows over 30 months of age to be imported into the United States. This, of course, is the age most likely to be infected with BSE. Another issue brought forward in these side meetings was the problem of regionalization of Santa Catarina, Brazil, from which USDA plans to import cattle, beef, hogs and pork products. Stockgrowers have long opposed this due to the fact that the entire surrounding area is not free of FMD (Foot & Mouth Disease) even though the Santa Catarina area reportedly is an FMD free state,” Fox said.
“All in all, we had a good trip and made good use of our time in D.C., and we again want to thank those who so generously donated to the cause,” Fox said.