August 7, 2002
Crooked Cops at USDA and Packers and Stockyards
Bill Lehman, USDA meat inspector from Sweetgrass, Montana called attention to the lack of meat inspection on the Canadian border. He was ridiculed, discredited, and told to move to Oklahoma to inspect chickens. USDA is again moving people around to prevent people from doing their jobs and block enforcement. John Barthel from the Packers and Stockyards regional poultry office in Atlanta, Georgia has been appointed as regional beef supervisor in the Denver, Colorado beef office. He is packing his bags today in Atlanta for his move to Denver as his superiors lay on the beach in Hawaii, no doubt looking for anticompetitive behavior.
Why is a chicken man, who doesn’t have experience in the cattle and beef industries, being placed over experienced beef people, who are no doubt are demoralized and frustrated with the inaction of their own agency in addressing anticompetitive practices of the big meat packers? P&S has either failed to act on the complaint, failed to properly prosecute, or sold out every single case that could have made a difference for cattlemen. While cattlemen are being mugged by price fixing meat packers, the government provides cover.
Could it be that big-packer-promoting USDA Secretary Ann Veneman and contract hog farmer and P&S administrator, Donna Reifschneider are in the pockets of the big packers and are determined to force cattlemen into the same serfdom as hog and chicken farmers?
Taxpayers, cattlemen, and our rural communities that are turning into ghettos deserve an investigation of USDA and P&S now.