Waco, TX (Feb 18, 2004) – Texas Farmers Union is pleased with yesterday’s federal court ruling that the nation’s largest beef packer manipulated cattle markets.
TFU President Wes Sims, a lifetime livestock producer, said it was “an exciting day for everyone who owns livestock” as the federal court jury awarded $1.28 billion to a group of cattlemen with a suit against IBP, Inc., now known as Tyson Fresh Meats Inc.
“The size of the settlement isn’t too large when you look at what they have done to the livestock markets for the last several decades,” Sims said. “The biggest penalty of all will be the precedent that this ruling sets for this beef packer and all huge corporations that manipulate the markets. I hope it is just the beginning; it should be just the beginning.”
Sims said it will be up to Congress and Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman to protect agriculture producers and consumers from market manipulation in the future. “With this ruling, Congress surely cannot continue to oppose a ban on meatpackers owning livestock or other issues to protect the competitiveness of our markets,” he said. “Congress and the administration need to step in to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act, bust up the vertically and horizontally integrated markets and make sure this is not allowed to happen again.”
“Family farmers and ranchers are the first ones harmed by such market manipulation, but consumers are also hurt by market concentration,” Sims said. “Consolidation in the food processing sector has resulted in less competition which means lower prices to producers and higher prices for consumers.”
Sims said Texas Farmers Union had filed an amicus brief in support of the original lawsuit in 1996, and some of the organization’s family farmer members were part of the original suit.
“Farmers Union was formed in Texas 102 years ago to address monopolistic practices such as this,” he said. “Although we were able to overcome for a short time with the passage of the Sherman-Clayton Act and the Packers & Stockyards Act in the early 1900’s, the issue of market concentration has mushroomed to a devastating level today.”
|Texas Farmers Union, P.O. Box 738, Sweetwater, Tx 79556|