Dave Dickey gives his perspective on an upcoming Big Ag mega-merger Cargill and Continental Grain which owns chicken-producing Wayne Farms. The two companies are teaming up to buy Sanderson Farms, the third-largest chicken producer in the US for a cool $4.5 billion.
The CEO's of all the major meat packers have just collectively set their hair on fire and are likely calling internal company meetings RIGHT NOW about how to handle the industry's greatest threat in, like, forever. That's because the United States Department of Agriculture announced this month that it will attempt to significantly strengthen enforcement of the 100-year-old Packers and Stockyards Act that was originally written to stop meat packers from stealing from poultry,hog farmers and cattle ranchers with a bag of tricks that manipulated live stock prices through unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive practices. As written back in 1921:
Section 202 of the PSA (7 U.S.C. §§ 192 (a) and (e)) makes it unlawful for any packer who inspects livestock, meat products or livestock products to engage in or use any unfair, unjustly discriminatory or deceptive practice or device, or engage in any course of business or do any act for the purpose or with the effect of manipulating or controlling prices or creating a monopoly in the buying, selling or dealing any article in restraint of commerce. But meat packers have had a century to go to the courts in order to chip away at straightforward protections. And chip away they did, finally hitting the mother load in 2004 in the landmark case Pickett v. Tyson Fresh Meats Inc.
U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama ruled that to win Section 202 PSA case a meat producer or rancher had to prove a singular meat packer's buying practices reduced marketplace competition by arbitrarily lowering prices paid to sellers with the likely effect of increasing retail prices.
Big Meat's secret weapon is a company called Agri Stats. Every week a bunch of Big Meat companies send Agri Stats a raft load of internal sales documents which Agri Stats merges into a industry wide sales report and sends back to subscribers. Agri Stats and those reports are at the heart of numerous lawsuits alleging that the reporting system allows Big Meat to participate in illegal anticompetitive activity.
All through 2020, Big Meat and the Trump White House abused immigrants and low-income people working at the nation's slaughterhouses, all but physically forcing them to work in a cauldron pot of coronavirus. The White House named meat packers essential workers while Big Meat failed to do enough to protect its on-line employees from COVID-19. Predictably, avoidable illness and death followed. Now comes litigation.
After looking at the facts, anyone with half a brain would say the pesticide chlorpyrifos has no place in agriculture. The Environmental Protection Agency first registered the Dow Chemical and DuPont concoction way back in 1965 to kill bugs on a host of crops from corn and soybeans to fruit and nut trees, broccoli, cauliflower, cranberries and Brussels sprouts. And for good measure it was also heavily applied on golf courses.
As one would expect, Bader Farms v. Monsanto Company – as the first dicamba-related case to go to trial – was about as high profile as it gets. Especially after the jury punched Monsanto right between the eyes in awarding Bader Farms $265 million for dicamba damage to the farm's peach orchards.
Slowing or reversing the negative impacts of climate change will need to be an all-hands-on-deck affair. And that means you and me too. We can begin by controlling what in blue blazes is happening in our kitchens.
We now have an admission of guilt from EPA that it wrongly issued 2018 dicamba registrations for Bayer's XtendiMax herbicide, BASF's Engenia herbicide and Corteva's FeXapan herbicide. New acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff said as much to EPA staffers in an internal e-mail on March 10 that read in part: