|April 11, 2003
OCM’s Cattlemen’s Competitive Market Project Applauds Favorable Decision in Cattle Price Manipulation Case
Lincoln, NE ~ The Organization For Competitive Markets’ Cattlemen’s Competitive Market Project (CCMP) applauded the recent decision of the trial court in the case of Pickett v. IBP which allows the plaintiff’s experts to testify that IBP’s captive supplies unlawfully depressed cattle prices. IBP tried to exclude the testimony of Dr. Robert Taylor of Auburn University and Dr. Catherine Durham of Oregon State University saying that they were unreliable. Judge Lyle Strom, in an April 8, 2003 decision, disagreed.
“IBP will now have to explain themselves before an unbiased jury,” said Randy Stevenson, CCMP steering committee member and Wheatland, Wyoming feedlot owner. “The meat packers have always said that captive supplies are wonderful for the producers and that they do not manipulate prices with captive cattle. Judge Strom has now told IBP in clear terms that the economic evidence is reliable and that a jury is entitled to decide who is right.”
The Pickett v. IBP case is the first class action ever certified under the Packers & Stockyards Act. Plaintiff’s counsel David Domina, Joe Whatley, Randy Beard, Clay Hornsby and Steve Griffith have guided this precedent setting case through several attempts by IBP’s lawyers to have it thrown out of court. The plaintiffs allege that IBP has used its contracted and packer-owned cattle as a marketplace weapon to manipulate cattle prices downward.
“The packers have succeeded in convincing USDA and the Congress that captive supplies are merely a natural change in the industry,” said Korley Sears, CCMP steering committee member and co-owner of Ainsworth Feedyards in Ainsworth, Nebraska. “They will not be able to use campaign contributions and K Street lobbyists to influence the decision of the jury that will hear this case. If the jury rules for cattlemen, it will be the most significant event in the cattle industry since the federal government broke up the packer-cartel in the early 1920’s.”
The OCM Cattlemen’s Competitive Market Project works to increase competition in the live cattle markets through research, education and advocacy to reduce captive supplies and retail market power.
The Organization For Competitive Markets is a multidisciplinary, nonprofit group of farmers, ranchers, academics, attorneys, and policy makers dedicated to reclaiming the agricultural marketplace for independent farmers, ranchers and rural communities.
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Photo: Sean Cayton - 2003People producing good food from happy animals, while improving the environment, shouldn’t have to fear the government.
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