Who will Justice Amy Coney Barrett Represent?

President Ronald Reagan appointed pro-corporate, de-reg, no-rules judges to our nation’s highest courts. Has President Trump done the same?

“He’s in Tyson’s pocket, He’s in Tyson’s pocket!” said New Mexico rancher, Sam Britt, during the opening days of the 2004 cattlemen’s trial for fair markets. It was considered the most important case relative to the cattle business since 1921. I argued that what appeared to be the judge’s apparent preference for Tyson was actually the judge’s effort to make the case stronger, better for standing up to an appeal. Sam was right. I was wrong!

“History shows that it is just as effective to legislate from the bench by striking down laws as by upholding them.”

Judge Strom went on to seriously cripple the Packers and Stockyards Act with his decision in the precedent-setting Pickett vs. IBP/Tyson case.  Congress broke up a less powerful meatpacker monopoly in 1920 with a consent decree, and to protect producers from future concentrated and abusive power, passed the Packers and Stockyards Act in 1921. Other antitrust laws like the Sherman and Clayton Acts were already in place protecting consumers from abusive market power.  The jury found in favor of the cattlemen. Judge Strom quickly reversed their verdict, taking away the $1.28 billion award and any hope of the injunctive relief that would have forced the big meatpackers back into a competitive marketplace. Judge Strom’s reversal of the jury verdict ignored the clear and plain wording of the Act and the Congressional intent to protect producers of livestock from any future meatpacker monopoly. On that Spring day in 2004, Judge Strom essentially tossed the entire cattle industry into the big meatpackers’ meat grinder, where fewer and fewer of us remain today.

The Pickett/IBP/Tyson case eventually worked its way up to the Supreme Court, where the Robert’s led pro-corporate court refused to hear it, giving the big meatpackers the green light to confidently continue their pillaging and plundering of our cattle industry.

Around the same time, Judge Strom dismissed a shareholder case against ConAgra for cooking the company’s books. ConAgra was one of the biggest and considered one of the most corrupt corporations in the country. The ConAgra case could have been equivalent to the Enron case. ConAgra was one of the big four meatpackers at the time, later to become Swift, and eventually JBS, the biggest, and without question, the most corrupt and criminal meat company in the world.

Judge Strom is now retired. What does the future of our courts look like? Is there a chance the courts may once again represent the people’s interests?

Oct. 12, 2020

For almost 50 years, the multibillionaire has been pushing for a court unfriendly to regulation of the market. He may be on the brink of victory.

By

Christopher Leonard is the author of “Kochland.”

“Charles Koch has activated his political network to support Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination, and to tip the scales on her nomination battle in the U.S. Senate. While much of the commentary about Judge Barrett’s nomination has focused on the real prospect that Roe v. Wade may be undermined or overturned, Mr. Koch has other concerns. Judge Barrett’s nomination is the latest battleground in his decades-long war to reshape American society in a way that ensures that corporations can operate with untrammeled freedom. It may be a pivotal one.

“And shaping the U.S. judiciary has been part of Mr. Koch’s strategy from the beginning. In that 1974 speech, he recommended a strategy of “strategically planned litigation” to test the regulatory authority of government agencies. Such lawsuits could make their way to the Supreme Court, where justices could set precedent. In the 1990s, he focused on lower-level judges, funding a legal institute that paid for judges to attend junkets at a Utah ski resort and Florida beachfront properties; the judges attended seminars on the importance of market forces in society and were warned against consideration of “junk science” — like specific methods to measure the effects of pollution — that plaintiffs used to prove corporate malfeasance.

“Mr. Koch also sought to influence the judiciary at the federal level. Between 1997 and 2017, the Koch brothers gave more than $6 million to the Federalist Society, a nonprofit institute that recruits libertarian and conservative judges for the federal judiciary, according to a tally by the activist group Greenpeace.

“History shows that it is just as effective to legislate from the bench by striking down laws as by upholding them. The Lochner era proves that policy negation is just as powerful as creation, and it affects just as many lives. As Charles Koch has written and stated so often in the past five decades, there are many, many laws and programs that he would like to negate. With the nomination of Judge Barrett to the court, he appears to be closer than ever to achieving this goal.”

Associated Press

Who will Justice Amy Coney Barrett represent?

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THE PEOPLE vs. CONCENTRATED POWER

Hear an amazing interview with Barry on the Commonwealth Club

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What is a Living Wage?

Thanks to NFU Historian, Tom Giessel

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Grassroots cattlemen aren’t smart enough to protect their own livelihood, says NCBA.

January 31, 2000

Long held elitist philosophy finally exposed at National Cattlemen’s Beef Association convention

By Mike Callicrate

Cattlemen attendees at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) convention were aghast at hearing the statement of Jon Ferguson, newly elected chairman of the Beef Checkoff division of NCBA.

In effect, Ferguson told his audience that NCBA leadership had all the brains when it came to the betterment of the beef industry and that grassroots producers didn’t know what was good for them—implying that NCBA leaders did.

“The large group of grassroots producers we are always hearing about are not informed enough or knowledgeable enough to understand these issues.”

Ferguson had no compunction in stating to members that, “It is important the decisions of the cattle industry be made by this group of educated people [NCBA Executive Committee] that are knowledgeable about the issues facing our industry. The large group of grassroots producers we are always hearing about are not informed enough or knowledgeable enough to understand these issues.”

So that there was no misunderstanding on this point, Ferguson’s statement was recorded by several cattlemen in attendance at the NCBA Executive Committee meeting, January 26, 2000.

Ferguson is a Kansas Livestock Association (KLA) past president and current NCBA Executive board member. Like those at the top in the NCBA, Ferguson and the KLA in his own state of Kansas are currently seeing a grassroots revolt to this top-down control style of leadership.

“We are simply not going to follow KLA’s or NCBA’s leadership into a corporate-controlled, industrialized-factory model for the beef industry.”

Ivan Riemer, Meade, Kansas cattle feeder, and a board member of the newly formed Kansas Cattlemen’s Association (KCA), stated, “We are simply not going to follow KLA’s or NCBA’s leadership into a corporate-controlled, industrialized-factory model for the beef industry. Like the top-down corporate control of the poultry industry, KLA’s constant defense of the big packers’ interests simply leads to chicken farmer-sharecropper status for cattle producers.

“KCA represents what is good for grassroots producers and consumers. We will aggressively fight the destructive and non-sustainable big corporate control of the cattle and beef industry.”

In other convention business, grassroots heated debate over the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations ended in a deadlock and will be continued later.

“We now have an organization no one wants and we are looking for a place to discard the remains.”

One Montana cattle producer said, “After today’s fight we have killed, mutilated and divided the baby [NCBA]. On one side we have the big packer and big feeder, and on the other side we have the cattle producer. We now have an organization no one wants and we are looking for a place to discard the remains.”

“Once you have given away your power, it’s very difficult to get it back,” stated an Oregon cattleman in referring to the merger which gave NCBA control of the $80 million per year Beef Checkoff and the big meatpackers voting power on the NCBA board.

IBP head buyer and NCBA board member, Bruce Bass, as has become standard practice, once again dominated the NCBA Live Cattle Marketing Committee meeting. Bass congratulated the mostly big feeder-packer aligned committee for “being positive” in passing a resolution directing the NCBA to oppose legislation banning packer ownership of livestock. THIS resolution was later passed into policy and will oppose current efforts in Congress to help independent producers.

“We are afraid. We are intimidated. We have to sell our cattle to one of the big packers every week and we can’t afford to be blackballed.”

Evaluating the entire cattle situation, under agreement of anonymity, an independent Texas cattle feeder when asked why more feeders don’t stand up to the packer control of their markets said, “We are afraid. We are intimidated. We have to sell our cattle to one of the big packers every week and we can’t afford to be blackballed. Many of us have already given in to packer pressure and are now under contract.

“Some of us have discretely complained about illegal anti-competitive packer practices to the USDA’s Packers and Stockyards agency. However, even if we win, there is no provision in the Packers and Stockyards Act for a feeder to recover damages and we still have to do business with the packer. If something isn’t done now to stop the abuse of cattle producers, there won’t be an independent feeder left in the Texas panhandle within three years.”

The low point of the convention according to a New Mexico rancher came when U.S. Premium beef and their partner and big packer, Farmland, received the Vision Award for “best beef innovator of the year.” “U.S. Premium Beef continues to be lauded by NCBA, when in fact, U.S. Premium Beef has done nothing more than provide Farmland with price depressing captive supplies.

“U.S. Premium Beef and Farmland boast of an insulting $13.87 per head return to their owner-members. According to USDA, we have lost over $300 per head of our share of the consumer beef dollar.

“We will continue to lose as long as the NCBA ignores the abusive market power of the big packers, including Farmland. Packers and retailers are reporting record profits on beef, we are going broke and NCBA says we should be happy.

“I wasn’t sure how I wanted to vote in the upcoming referendum on the NCBA controlled Beef Checkoff.  Now I think I know.”

——————–

October 16, 2020 – We have now lost nearly half our ranchers and over 84,000 feeding operations that once supported a competitive market for cow-calf producers. Let’s finally end this NCBA/Checkoff menace and rebuild our cattle industry. Go to: Cattle Industry Launches Petition Calling for Beef Checkoff Referendum

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The Four Recommendations of the Federal Trade Commission Regarding the Meat Packing Industry

1: That the Government acquire through the Railroad Administration all rolling stock used for the transportation of meat animals and that such ownership be declared a government monopoly.

2: That the Government acquire through the Railroad Administration the principal and necessary stockyards of the country, to be treated as freight depots and to be operated under such conditions as will insure open, competitive markets, with uniform scale of charges for all services performed, and the acquisition or establishment of such additional yards from time to time as the future development of live stock production in the United States may require. This to include customary adjuncts of stockyards.

3: That the Government acquire through the Railroad Administration all privately owned refrigerator cars and all necessary equipment for their proper operation and that such ownership be declared a Government monopoly.

4: [That the Government] acquire such of the branch houses, cold-storage plants, and warehouses as are necessary to provide facilities for the competitive marketing and storage of food products in the principal centers of distribution and consumption. The same to be operated by the Government as public markets and storage places under such conditions as will afford an outlet for all manufacturers and handlers of food products on equal terms. Supplementing the marketing and storage facilities thus acquired the Federal Government establish, through the Railroad Administration, at the terminals of all principal points of distribution and consumption, central wholesale markets, and storage plants, with facilities open to all upon payment of just and fair charges.

“The Commission believes that those four suggestions strike so deeply at the root of the tree of monopoly that they constitute an adequate and simple solution of a problem the gravity of which will be unfolded to you in the pages which follow.”

Thanks to NFU historian Tom Giessel

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