U.S. Farm & Ranch Alliance: The Foxin the Chicken Coop Presentation Prepared by John Hansen OCM Annual Meeting Kansas City, MO August 10, 2012
Since 1980 the U.S. Lost…• 42% of all Beef Producers -538,960 Beef Producers• 91% of all Pork Producers -606,060 Pork Producers• 82% of all Dairy Producers - 275,270 Dairy Producers• 33% of all Sheep Producers -40,000 Sheep Producers
Why Did All These Farmers &Ranchers Stop Raising Livestock?• Were they forced out of business because of a lack of income caused by non-competitive ag markets?• Was the compliance costs of meeting livestock waste regulations too high?• Or….• As USFRA claims, was it because of HSUS driven livestock production standards?
Since 1980… There has been a dramatic shift in livestock ownership More corporate ownership of livestock More meat packer ownership of livestock More indirect meatpacker ownership and control of livestock
Since 1980… More vertical integration of livestock Proliferation of CAFO’s (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) Massive consolidation of cattle, hog, and sheep meat packing Local and neighbor opposition to large CAFO’s because of water quality, air quality, & smell
Since 1980… Local, state, and national media coverage of conflicts between mostly corporate CAFO’s and local residents Local, state, and national media coverage of concerns about water contamination from CAFO’s Local, state, and national media coverage of concerns about the animal production methods used by some CAFO’s—including gestation crates for hogs, battery cages for chickens, and tail docking of dairy cows
Since 1980… Growing consumer concerns about where the food they consume comes from, and how it was produced The growing consumer concern about livestock production practices has been directly proportional to the corporate takeover of traditional independently owned and operated family farmer and rancher livestock production.
Ag Market Reforms & Ag Livestock Ownership Structure Common links between these two issues Same ag market players dominate both issues Same shared economic interests Same world view of food production Same use of public affairs management firms
Ag Market Reforms & Ag Ownership Structure Common links between these two issues Same use of money to influence elections Same approach to influencing laws & legislation Same approach to influencing regulation While they meat packers fight over market share, they work together for their common interests
The Corporate Response Circle the wagons of the corporate ag supporters-Form U.S. Farmer & Rancher Alliance Create a false threat to all agriculture that can be used to misdirect the focus and attention of consumers while appealing to the fears and prejudices of farmers & ranchers to justify the creation of the USFRA Include the agribusiness players Include the livestock commodity organizations –NCBA, NPPC, etc. Include as many ag related and ag organizations as possible—Farm Bureau, National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, etc.
The Corporate Response Hire a top quality public relations firm to poll consumers about their concerns Develop a process of engagement with consumers to put their issues of concern on the table within a controlled format so a unified message can be used to answer the consumer concern Utilize all forms of the media to spread and repeat a consistent and uniform message
The Corporate Response Use farmers and ranchers whenever possible to answer the consumer and public concerns about corporate livestock ownership and production issues Use farmers and ranchers own checkoff monies and organizational monies as much as possible to finance the corporate response to corporate agricultural issues Use farmers and ranchers as much as possible to put the friendly smiling face before consumers to answer their concerns resulting from the corporate takeover of traditional livestock production
Our Response Seek and tell the truth however inconvenient that might be Build broad based coalitions with players of common interests Develop our own game plan Get the necessary resources and commitment to implement it ―Never give up. Never give up. Never give up‖ Winston Churchill
Nebraska Farmers Union 1305 Plum St. Lincoln, NE 68502Website: www.nebraskafarmersunion.org Phone: 402-476-8815 Fax: 402-476-8859 Contacts: President - John K. Hansen