Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today encouraged United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to invite a South Dakota producer to testify at a joint USDA and Department of Justice (DOJ) workshop to examine competition and concentration in the agriculture industry. Johnson stressed that a South Dakotan’s perspective would provide valuable insight at the workshop, which is scheduled for August 27, 2010 in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“I am pleased that the two departments are coming together to tackle this important issue,” said Johnson. “I often hear from producers who are concerned with concentration and competition in the livestock sector and I know that USDA and DOJ will benefit from hearing directly from a South Dakota farmer or rancher.”
Johnson, a member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, has continually fought against the negative impacts of concentration in the livestock industry. Johnson has pushed for the implementation of a ban on packer ownership of livestock, and to ensure that independent farmers and ranchers maintain market access and price discovery options. He has also worked to implement Mandatory Price Reporting as a viable tool for farmers and ranchers.
The livestock-specific workshop in Fort Collins is part of a series of workshops USDA and DOJ are holding across the country to explore the impact of concentration in the agriculture industry. Witnesses are chosen at the discretion of the USDA and will be named in the coming weeks.
A copy of the letter is below:
The Honorable Tom Vilsack
Secretary of Agriculture
200-A Jamie L. Whitten Building
Washington, D.C. 20250
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
First and foremost, thank you for holding the joint United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) workshops this year to examine competition and concentration in the agricultural industry. These workshops present an outstanding opportunity to learn more about producer access to the marketplace and the manner in which the industry is functioning.
I write to request that a South Dakota producer be selected for participation as a panelist at the upcoming livestock-specific workshop to be held in Fort Collins, Colorado on August 27, 2010, at Colorado State University. Given that the regional workshop in Fort Collins is the singular workshop intended to discuss the impact of concentration on the livestock sector, including beef, pork, and other livestock species, it would be very helpful to include a South Dakota farmer or rancher at this event to better understand the impact that concentration has on the state of South Dakota and the Great Plains region.
Ranchers and farmers are dependent upon a fair and transparent marketplace, and the Fort Collins, Colorado workshop will allow for thorough discussion regarding issues which very directly impact producers’ livelihoods. I have worked for many years as a member of the United States Senate to more thoroughly implement the Packers and Stockyards Act and to ensure that independent producers are able to achieve adequate market access and price discovery options, and again, I applaud you for your leadership in this arena.
I thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this important request.
United States Senate