Butler: Farmers, Ranchers Feel ‘Abandoned’

Candidate Obama promised to level the playing field for farmers and ranchers, and they were excited by the prospect. Now those promises haven't been fulfilled and these same farmers feel abandoned.

 

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Editor’s Note: J. Dudley Butler recently wrote this open letter to President Obama and posted it on his law firm’s website. Butler served in the Obama administration until earlier this year. 

It was an honor to serve in your administration. However, I do regret never meeting you personally. While serving as Administrator of the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration my staff and I accomplished many goals. Like you, I believe that rural America is the backbone of America and that independent family farmers and ranchers are the backbone of rural America.

Now that I am back on my farm in Mississippi, I am writing to you as one of those independent family farmers, not as a representative of any organization or any other party.

However, while on a recent visit to North and South Dakota, ranchers often reminded me that during your campaign you made numerous promises about leveling the playing field to ensure the survival of rural America. Independent farmers and ranchers were excited for the first time in a long time. 

To date, most of these promises remain unfulfilled, and many of these same farmers and ranchers now feel abandoned by your administration.

You have shown me that you can make difficult decisions regardless of any political implication. Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “a genuine leader does not search for consensus, he molds consensus.”

Therefore, I am writing you on my 64th birthday with a request. I ask that you take swift and decisive action to protect independent farmers and ranchers as well as rural America by mandating increased livestock competition through the following actions:

• Ensure final implementation of all the remaining provisions of the proposed GIPSA rule by enacting a final rule and vetoing any bill that includes a rider or any other provision that would infringe upon the power of the executive branch to do so. 

We must ensure transparency, fairness and eliminate unfair, discriminatory and deceptive practices. How can anyone support retaliation, bad faith, denial of due process and fraud?

• Eliminate the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s stranglehold on the Beef Checkoff program. 

This administration is well aware that the NCBA has misappropriated producer contributions and that the NCBA’s control over the Beef Checkoff Program has helped it and the meat packers defeat major policy reforms sought by independent producers.

• Regulate price-depressing and anti-competitive captive supply practices by the meat packers. 

GIPSA sent a proposed regulation well over a year ago to the Office of the Secretary dealing with this matter. Nothing has happened.

• Ensure that farmers and ranchers are guaranteed payment for their livestock through an updated bonding regulation. Again, GIPSA sent a proposed regulation well over a year ago to the Office of the Secretary dealing with this matter. Nothing has happened.

I know that there are advisers in your administration who take the position that most farmers and ranchers are conservative by nature and consistently vote for Republican candidates. Therefore they believe that you should not go out on a limb to help them. 

Sometimes this may be the case but I know many of these people. They seek a genuine leader and a statesman. Not a politician. As you know, getting votes is not the proper scale to use. Doing what is right for America is.

Will Rogers and Mark Twain are two of my favorite humorists. They used humor to spread wisdom. I share with you two quotes.

“You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.” — Will Rogers

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” — Mark Twain

Mr. President, you have shown genuine leadership in the past. It is time to show it again. Rural America is depending on you.

 

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