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PRESS RELEASE: Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON)
FOR MORE INFORMATION: For more information, contact ICON Executive Director Destry Brown, 308-458-2244,
or ICON president David Wright, 402-929-0339, or Communications Director Linda Wuebben, 402-357-3778.

ICON Makes Strong Showing at DOJ/USDA Hearing

A chartered bus with 54 individuals returned early Saturday morning from the August 27th, workshop hosted at Colorado State University in Fort Collins by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the workshop was to hear from producers and rural Americans about the concentration and buying power of the packing industry in the livestock markets. The workshop was well attended as over 1500 people gathered to participate.

The agenda included opening statements from both the Secretary of Ag Tom Vilsack and the Attorney General Eric Holder. Both men stated that this was a historical event, as this is the first time the two agencies have worked together. They both seem to have a firm grip on not only the situation producers are facing, but also the importance of the livestock industry to a prosperous and safe America.
After opening remarks the Ag leaders led a roundtable discussion with various State officials. The questions and discussion centered on the trend of the family farm and ranches disappearing at an alarming rate.

"If the survival of the family farm and ranch is important, then we have to admit that what we are doing now is not working," said Montana's Attorney General Steve Bullock, giving the audience the most important statement of the panel that day. "If we cannot give the Packers and Stockyard Act teeth, we can at least give it a new set of dentures."

Other panels were presented throughout the day on, producer issues, trends in the livestock industry associated with contracting, price transparency, the affects of concentration, and finally a panel dealing with market structure. Independent Producers were well represented on these panels by several individuals. These included, Dr. Taylor Haynes a rancher from near Cheyenne WY, also a regional director for R-CALF USA; Allan Sents, a feedlot owner from Marquette, KS, and adDirector with the US Cattleman's Association. Gilles Stockton, a rancher from Range, MT, and Dave Domina, a lawyer from Omaha, NE, who was also the lead attorney in the Pickett vs. Tyson/IPB lawsuit.

These gentlemen did an excellent job of not criticizing the US Department of Ag for past policy but providing clear solutions for the current problems we face. They were very articulate and professional. If you are an independent producer or feeder you should be very proud of these individuals.

As expected, most of the public testimony centered on the new proposed rules issued on June 22nd by GIPSA. There was testimony opposing the rules, there was testimony supporting the rules and there was even testimony supporting some of the rules and opposing others. By far the majority of the testimony was very educational and civil, but there always seems to be the exception. J. Dudley Butler withstood some criticism and at one point was accused, in a fictional theory, as being an economic terrorist bent on destroying the industry from within. This was very disappointing and drew several "Boos" from the crowd. Overall, this was a very healthy and informative debate.

This was the 4th in a series of workshops and the final workshop will be in Washington DC, December 8th, dealing with the discrepancies between the prices received by ranchers and the prices paid by consumers. ICON would encourage you to listen to audio of this hearing when it is available on the Department of Justice website at

Also, we strongly encourage you to make written comment on this issue and the proposed GIPSA rule changes at (this is an email address).

ICON would like to thank the sponsors who provided the charter bus that allowed producers to attend the workshop. They include: Sandhills Equipment, Dennis Swanson, Bassett, NE; Joseph Angus, Roger Joseph, Winner SD; O'Dea Livestock, John O'Dea, McCook, NE; Vitalix, Greg Olsen, Alliance, NE; Dyer Feed, Doug Dyer, Hyannis, NE; Hubbard Feed, Steve Holmes, Gering, NE; Pearson Livestock Equipment, Thedford, NE; David and Kristine Gale, Bassett, NE; and Carolyn Hall, Bassett, NE.
The 54 producers riding the bus were also served a complimentary lunch while traveling. The lunch was sponsored by Abbott's Sandhills Own, Chris Abbott Family, Gordon, NE; drinks were provided by Pepsi of Alliance NE; and chips were donated by Harris Sales, Alliance, NE. Mike Dietrich of Dietrich Distributing, Gering, NE, also provided some refreshment for the long bus ride home.
ICON would also like to send a huge thank you out to those who rode the bus to Fort Collins. Sacrificing time away from the ranch did not go unnoticed, you were part of history in the making and we are optimistic that the future holds great things for production agriculture.

For more information concerning the workshop or to become a member of ICON, call Destry Brown, Executive Director, at 308-458-2244 or visit our website at



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