WHAT TO MAKE OF THE UNION: Oklahoma Farmer Who Deals Some Hard Blows

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Now we have an organization that will liberate forty million slaves if we will take it and use it for that purpose. Some farmers don’t like the term “slave,” and if I could find a more suitable term I would use it, but when I look around and see 90 percent of the wealth of our great country owned by 10 percent of its population, then by farther investigation find that the produce of the farm is priced by less than 30 men. If some man prices the product of your labor does he not price your labor, and if he prices your labor and you depend on labor for your existence, then why are you not his slave? Now, brethren, we are too great a people for slavery. We are too intelligent to see our children go as slaves, and if we were to surrender the cause of the Farmers’ Union then what could we resort to, what could we promise our children that are being harmed when we see land going up by leaps and bounds, nothing in the world but to be a tenant and pay tribute to send white handed, purple finger nailed aristocratic son of some land grafter who never earned an honest dollar.

We owe it to our children to put a stop to this robbing system that has been going on for many years. Our forefathers fought for our liberty and sacrificed many noble lives that we should be a free and independent people and have equal rights to all and special privileges to none, but when we take a look into the affairs of our present day we find we have lost nearly all they fought for. When we look down and see that forty millions of our people haven’t the power to price their labor and the most detestable thing is that a majority of these people are held less women and children, labor being priced by some apple headed dude that is an entire stranger to manual labor.

So now we come to the remedy. First, how did the other fellow get the advantage of us? It was by organizing themselves into a body and laying plans whereby they could concentrate their strength together and monopolize all the surplus values of the products of labor, and they decided on cooperation which has proved to be success to them and has drawn all the wealth from the farmers within less than fifty years.

Now what will restore all this back to the farmers? Nothing in the world but union and cooperation. So let use all work for the grand cause, and let us all be lecturers for the F. E. & C. U. of A. When you meet a farmer ask him if he is a Farmers’ Union man; if he is not make him tell why, take him by the hand and tell him how bad we need him. Let us all turn out to our locals and talk unionism and keep down all strife among ourselves for in harmony we must move. -W. B. Denton, in Farmers’ Union Advocate

From the archives of Tom Giessel

Today’s model of farmer serfdom:

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America returns to the Jungle
Support the new GIPSA anti-monopoly rules

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Cattle market crash: saving American family farms

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By Candace Barnette Posted: Tue 4:53 PM, Nov 29, 2016 Updated: Tue 7:23 PM, Nov 29, 2016

KEMPER CO., Miss. (WTOK) – It’s a crisis for the American family farmer.

“Rural America is slowly dying,” local cattleman Fred Stokes says.

Stokes has seen, firsthand, the effects that big corporations have had on farms and ranches. And it’s not just the farmers who are affected. Stokes says the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling mandates often mean you, the consumer, are paying more for cheaper beef that could be from anywhere – countries like Brazil have greatly increased production and exports.

“And that’s a region of the world that still has foot and mouth disease, a very contagious and deadly disease,” Stokes says.

Many small towns who thrived on agriculture haven’t been able to survive the market crash.

“We watch this money deteriorate out of our rural economy, destroying our way of life in rural America, and right here in Mississippi is a prime example,” Joe Maxwell with the Organization for Competitive Markets says.

So what does it take to fight this problem?

“One hand you fight the big guns on the other side of this debate,” Stokes says. “On the other hand, you fight apathy.”

Stokes says the first step should be re-instating Country of Origin Labeling. Without it, farmers say the future is grim.

“It’s all going to be controlled by big corporations instead of the farmers that should be doing it,” OCM president Mike Weaver says.

The next step, resurrecting anti-trust laws. Think Theodore Roosevelt in the late 1800s.

“Read the history book. This is not the first time this country has seen a power grab by large corporations,” Maxwell says.

“If they are the market, and they own their own cattle, they don’t have to bid for my cattle,” Stokes explains.

And finally, farmers say they want a fair and balanced trade agreement.

“With this new administration we need a fair opportunity for fair markets,” Maxwell says.

Many have hope in this incoming administration, but they say there’s plenty of work left to put these problems behind them.

See the video.

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Over 100 Mississippi Farmers and Ranchers Gather to Reclaim a Fair Food System

published November 16, 2016 on OCM

Cattle Producers Mad as Hell and Not Gonna Take It Anymore

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BAY SPRINGS, MS – Yesterday evening, over 100 farmers and ranchers gathered in Bay Springs, Mississippi to say “enough is enough.” With this year’s calf prices dropping to about half of what they were a year ago and putting Mississippi cattle producers’ viability in question, cattle producers learned of actions they can take to win back a free and just market to regain their fair share of the retail beef prices.

The meeting was hosted by the Jasper County Farm Bureau with presentations by the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM). OCM’s mission is to ensure the marketplace works for everyone – especially the farmer and the consumer.

In the name of globalization, the United States government has allowed large multi-national corporations to take control of the market allowing as few as four corporations to control over 50% of the market. This heavy concentration prevents the market from working competitively and fairly. Rather, it allows the largest corporations to set prices at both ends of the food chain; below market prices for the farmer and above market prices for the retail consumer.

“With Mississippi losing 75% of their cattle producers since I got into the business, we cannot endure another drawdown due to this market crash; no one is going to just give us back a fair and open market,” stated OCM board member, Fred Stokes. “This meeting is just the start. To strengthen our efforts, OCM plans to have several meetings across the United States. OCM believes doing nothing is simply not an option unless we want the American cowboy to become extinct and Brazil to become our beef provider.”

Fred Stokes opened the presentation by outlining how the market has been hijacked and how it is organizations bearing farmers’ or ranchers’ names that are fronting for the multi-national corporations and packers. “With National Cattlemen’s Beef Association receiving the lion’s share of our beef checkoff funds and then working to end Country of Origin Labeling (COOL), we are simply funding our own demise,” he concluded.

Steaks served at Jasper County meeting cost the same as last year, while local calves are selling at prices one-half of a year ago.

Steaks served at Jasper County meeting cost the same as last year, while local calves are selling at prices one-half of a year ago.

Research shows a correlation between Congress’s repeal of COOL and this market downturn.
Through the advancement of their anti-Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) efforts and other anti-independent family farm policies, NCBA has played a major role in this market crash. Calf prices are half of what they were when COOL was in place. NCBA lobbied and litigated to abolish COOL on behalf of packers so that cheap imported South American beef could be substituted for US beef without notice. Unbiased observers need only look at what has happened to cattle prices here at home.

Past President of OCM Mike Callicrate’s presentation clearly established that the U.S. cattle producer’s share of the retail beef price has dwindled from 70% in the 1970’s to a low of only 40% today. “With so few packers left in the U.S., the price U.S. cattle producers are paid is dictated by the packer and not the marketplace,” explained Callicrate. “While the price cattle producers are paid has taken a dive to the bottom, consumers have not seen the cost of feeding their families drop. What more evidence do we need to know the marketplace is rigged and severely broken?”

OCM outlined the actions the group is pursuing to restore justice for the American farmer and rancher:

• To stop NCBA’s illegal influence and to get to the truth on how U.S. cattle producers’ beef checkoff funds are being spent, OCM is pursuing an ongoing Freedom of Information complaint in federal district court.
• Following a yearlong effort, OCM has secured two U.S. Senators’ support to end checkoff abuses. Senator Lee (R) Utah has filed SB 3200, which would make all checkoff programs voluntary, and Senator Booker (D) New Jersey has joined Senator Lee in filing SB 3201, which if adopted would provide meaningful reform to all checkoff programs, including banning lobbying organizations such as NCBA from receiving any checkoff funds, providing further transparency and strengthening the market disparagement and anti-competitive provisions within current law.
• OCM has begun a research project to outline the actions that need to be taken to end the heavy market concentration of both packers and retailers. They are encouraged by recent hearings which have been held in Washington DC on this topic.
• Through its national collaboration, OCM is pushing for changes in the Packers and Stockyards Act, which would end packers’ predatory practices in the market and would provide meaningful protection for contract growers.

At the conclusion of the meeting, OCM president Mike Weaver asked every farmer to join the fight to ensure economic justice for independent farmers and ranchers. “We need your help, and we can’t do it alone,” stated Weaver. “If we are going to take on the world’s largest corporations, all independent farmers and ranchers must be organized and speaking as one voice.”

Check out the meeting video here:

We are excited to share the first video in our three-part series on WTOK-TV News. Join us as we discuss our search for answers and our work to keep rural communities alive in a system that is rigged against the independent family farmer and rancher.Part 1On The Record, Part 1: Family Farmers Under Siege
Struggling for answers and a competitive market, OCM is on the front line

Check out part two in our series with WTOK-TV News. In this segment, we discuss the dangers we are facing in this country when agriculture is no longer community-based, but is instead controlled by multi-national corporations.
Part 2On The Record, Part 2: Crisis in Rural America
Struggling for answers and a competitive market, OCM is on the front line

In part three of our series with WTOK-TV News, we discuss the need to reinstate Country of Origin Labeling (COOL). The loss of COOL not only diminishes U.S. producers’ ability to access the market with their own agricultural goods, but also flies in the face of consumer demands for transparency in our food system.Part 3On The Record, Part 3: Country of Origin Labeling
Struggling for answers and a competitive market, OCM is on the front line

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Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Innovation Fair – Fall 2016

To download the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Innovation Fair presentation, click here.

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How Can You Help Men Who Won’t Help Themselves?

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Writing of Senator Burton, in the Pittsburg Kansan, W. H. T. Wakefield says that for six years he officed next room to Burton and that the door between their offices was seldom closed, and that Burton spent much of his time at Wakefield’s editorial desk. He said that Burton came to Kansas as a democrat, but joined the republican party because it was the only way to get into politics; that he was a great student and understood economics well, being a great reader and investigator of radical books, and in private conversation expressed the most radical sentiments, saying that they were necessary parts of honest government and the people should have them enacted into law. Then he would fall into a meditative mood and say:

“But how in —- and —- nation are you going to give it to them? The gibbering idiots don’t know a thing on earth correctly, and forget it in a month if they do. To try to help the common people is to sign your political death warrant and I am not in the Jesus Christ business. When the people quit voting for their enemies and stop crucifying their saviors I will be with them to the bitter end, but how can you help men who won’t help themselves?” –Appeal to Reason

From the Tom Giessel Archives

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