FROM: INDEPENDENT CATTLEMEN OF NEBRASKA, Box 241, Hyannis, NE 69350
Media Contact: Mary Mulligan (402) 967-3464; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - January 27, 2006
ICON CALLS ON JOHANNS TO TAKE ACTION AGAINST GIPSA OFFICIALS
Hyannis, NE - In a stunning report made public recently, the USDA Office
of Inspector General revealed that the Grain Inspection, Packers and
Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) management has blocked investigations
of anti-competitive behavior through numerous means, such as failing
to provide established procedures for investigations and refusing to
approve and provide clearance for employees seeking to investigate wrongdoing.
The report documents instances where top employees at GIPSA instructed
regional offices to count routine correspondence and other mundane activities
as investigations to give the misleading appearance that GIPSA was actively
pursuing cases of unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive acts in livestock
and poultry markets. The full text of the report can be found on the
USDA's website at: www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/30601-01-HY.pdf
ICON spokesman Jim Hanna of Brownlee said, "Anyone involved in
the cattle business in the last ten years knew the issues with lack
of competition were getting more and more serious. However, the "Industry
boys" kept telling us we were out of touch because the USDA had
found no evidence of anti-competitive activity."
Hanna said the report reveals that, not only were they not looking for
violations of the P&S Act, they were actually blocking any attempts
to investigate them.
"If ever there was a time for a great hue and cry from the grassroots,
this would be it, " Hanna said. "We cannot stand by while
the agency that exists to protect our independent producers enables
corrupt industry insiders to manipulate the regulatory process and defy
the law. We call on the Secretary to make sweeping changes in personnel
and procedures and to immediately and effectively enforce the Packers
and Stockyards Act".
Al Davis, ICON Director from Hyannis agreed. "We knew the packing
giants were using captive supplies and their own cattle to drive down
prices on the spot market," he said. "To us, that was made
abundantly clear in the Pickett case. It seems ironic that other producer
organizations that were unwilling to support captive supply reforms
are now calling for investigations into USDA's misdeeds."
"We will strongly urge our senators and congressmen to join in
the call for hearings on the matter and ask them to see that reforms
are made. Re-establishment and maintenance of a truly competitive and
open market may be the most critical issue we face today, " Davis