OCM Releases Report on Regulatory Capture
White paper reveals ag industry and government are too close for comfort
LINCOLN, NE: The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) has released a report on regulatory agency capture entitled “Captured: How Agribusiness Controls Regulatory Agencies and Harms Producers and Consumers.” The 25-page paper details the revolving door between major agribusiness firms and the regulatory agencies that are supposed to police them, citing several specific examples.
The paper also includes profiles of farmers who have been personally harmed by nonexistent enforcement of violations perpetrated by Big Ag, as well as inequities in the governmental agencies that implement agricultural programs and write the rules governing agricultural antitrust enforcement. The lack of enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act has caused undue harm to many agricultural producers.
“The company has 99-and-a-half percent control over the grower,” said Jonathan Buttram, an Alabama poultry grower profiled in the paper, referring to the tremendous unchecked power wielded by large poultry companies over their contract growers. “We have no rights. We’re basically turned into sharecroppers,” Buttram said.
“In these tumultuous times we see plainly that we need a truly transformational agriculture, not more business as usual,” said Sarah Lloyd, a Wisconsin dairy farmer also profiled in the paper. “Unfortunately, the revolving door between the USDA, the check-off, and the big corporations is squashing our opportunity for real change,” Lloyd said.
The final section of the OCM paper contains policy recommendations for re-structuring the Packers and Stockyards Division (PSD) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), implementing restrictions on revolving-door transitions of government officials back and forth from lobbying and industry leadership positions, and increasing Congressional oversight of agriculture antitrust enforcement.
“The current administration dismantled the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) and kicked the door wide open for the customary corporate abuse of producers to continue unchecked. By now it should be clear to all that the USDA is ineffective at protecting farmers from exploitation because of USDA’s takeover by major industry players,” said Ben Gotschall, OCM Interim Executive Director.
“Whoever wins the Presidential election in November must take agriculture antitrust enforcement seriously and stop the blatant, corrupt cronyism between government officials and Big Ag, or there will be no independent, family farm agriculture as we now know it,” Gotschall said.
–Organization for Competitive Markets
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