The Aberdeen American News has the most incredible story today. It’s about Herman Schumacher, a livestock sale barn owner and longtime advocate for independent cattle producers, who is about ready to lose his property. Schumacher and others had the temerity some time ago to file suit against several large meatpacking companies (Tyson, Cargill and Swift) claiming the companies violated federal law by manipulating prices paid to cattle raisers. Schumacher won. In the spring of 2006, a South Dakota jury ruled in his favor, finding that the packers “knowingly used erroneous U.S. Department of Agriculture price reports to pay less to producers for beef cattle.” The jurors awarded the plaintiffs $9.25 million.
An appeals court overturned that verdict and now Schumacher has a notice on his front door from the U.S. Marshal saying he owes about $16,000 to Tyson. (Picture above.) A federal judge ruled Schumacher owed that to defray the company’s court costs. Now if Schumacher doesn’t pay the bill, he’ll lose his house in Herreid, South Dakota. He wins his case before a jury, but has that verdict taken away by judges.
“In a sense (the writ of execution) is on my door, but it’s on the door of any producer that dares speak out” against meat packers, Schumacher said. “I really do think they’re trying to make an example of me, to silence me.”