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PRESS RELEASE: Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON)
FOR MORE INFORMATION: ICON Executive Director Destry Brown, 308-458-2244
or ICON Director Chris Abbott, 308-282-2826.

ICON Praises New USDA Livestock Rules - Hyannis, NE - June 28, 2010

New rules from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) are supported by the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON).

According to ICON officials, the new rule, released Tuesday, will be open for comment until Aug. 23. It will provide new protection for producers against unfair marketing practices that ICON officials feels it is "a long time coming."

"Finally, the Packers and Stockyards Act will have teeth," said ICON Executive Director Destry Brown. "It has been floundering ever since it was created and now GIPSA will have some grounds for enforcing it."

For years, Brown said, there has been concern in the cattle industry about the fairness of marketing practices for livestock and poultry. In 2007, he said, several ag-related organizations pushed Congress to create a directive for market fairness and competition between livestock producers and add it to the 2008 Farm Bill.

During rural tours sponsored by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in 2008, the need for changes in the competitive market in the livestock industry was reiterated. Brown said that at every meeting place across the U.S., farmers and ranchers told their story of how they were faced with increasing expenses while income dwindled when forced to compete with a few large packer concentrations of livestock and poultry.

"This is a way to revitalize rural communities," said ICON President Dave Wright. "Smaller producers will support their hometown businesses and this rule to increase fair competition will definitely be an advantage to small rural communities who right now are dying. The mega-huge producer facilities do not rely on rural businesses but often order from large companies in bigger cities or over the Internet. We have been working to change that, to keep our rural lifestyle alive."

According to Wright, the development of the proposed rules comes from a grassroots effort by farm organizations that see the disadvantages and unfair marketing practices which have left their members helpless.

ICON participated in the rural tours and also invited the new GIPSA administrator, Dudley Butler, to its convention last fall in North Platte, where he gave ICON members a glimmer of hope. Butler has worked hard to carry out his promises, Wright said.

"A victory for the small farmer and rancher, but a huge victory for small and mid-size feedlot operators, which are such an important factor in setting the price of cattle in the country and at the sale barn," said ICON Treasurer Al Davis. "Dudley Butler made promises to ICON when he addressed us at our 2009 convention and he obviously intends to fulfill those promises. I couldn't be happier about this decision and must credit the work of ICON, R-Calf, and USCA, in putting pressure on the USDA to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act."


Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska
"Solid as a windmill. Always working for the independent producer."