The Organization for Competitive Markets, Competitive Markets Action, National Dairy Producers Organization, Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association, American Grassfed Association, and others engaged in Nearly 100 Meetings on Capitol Hill.
Washington, D.C. — As the current Farm Bill expired Sept. 30, and Congress continues to stall in advancing a new one, American family farmers and ranchers, who have a direct stake in the outcome, mobilized to Washington D.C. Sept. 17-22 to assert their position on key bills during their second Farm Bill summit in two months. The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), Competitive Markets Action (CMA), and members of the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association, Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, National Dairy Producers Organization, American Grassfed Association, and others, rallied in our Nation’s Capital in nearly 100 meetings this week.
The groups voiced their strong opposition to the so-called Ending Agriculture Trade Suppression (EATS) Act, H.R. 4417/S. 2019, led by Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, and Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kansas. If enacted, the EATS Act would nullify more than a thousand state and local agricultural laws that are in place to protect communities from a myriad of issues such as invasive pests and livestock diseases. The absence of local regulations would create an environment in which foreign conglomerates, such as the Chinese-owned Smithfield Foods, could easily expand across all 50 states without having to comply with state laws. Guarding U.S. agriculture and farmland ownership from Chinese companies is both a food safety and national security issue. EATS would weaken policy guardrails that are in place to prevent nefarious activity on U.S. soil.
The organizations also advocated for the inclusion of the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, H.R. 1249/S. 557, led by Sens. Mike Lee, R-UT, Rand Paul, R-KY, Cory Booker, D-NJ, Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, and Reps. Nancy Mace, R-SC, and Dina Titus, D-NV, in the upcoming Farm Bill. OFF would reform the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s scandal-ridden Commodity Checkoff Programs by requiring transparency so farmers are able to see where the tax dollars they pay are being spent; would prohibit anti-competitive practices in the marketplace like the use of slogans such as “Pork the Other White Meat;” and would codify a Supreme Court decision that prohibits checkoffs from utilizing funds for lobbying purposes. Checkoff’s have long-lobbied for harmful policies like the repeal of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) that have decimated American family farmers and cattle prices.
“If EATS is included in the upcoming Farm Bill, it will mark the end of American family farming as we know it,” said Deborah Mills, Chairwoman of the National Dairy Producers Organization and a Board Director at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “We must fight this hostile takeover with everything we have. It’s clear from China Weekly’s recent commentary that the Hinson-Marshall EATS Act is exactly what the Chinese Communist Party wants to see enacted to help them takeover American agriculture.”
Arguably, the EATS Act is the most controversial piece of legislation being attempted to insert into the 2023 Farm Bill. In addition to farmers and ranchers, Congressional lawmakers, and government associations have also voiced their objection to the bill. Last month a bipartisan group of 30 U.S. Senators submitted a letter to Senate Agriculture Committee leadership opposing the EATS Act, and a coalition of over 170 U.S. Representatives submitted a letter to U.S. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-Pa., and Ranking Member David Scott, R-Ga., citing their opposition to the bill. Following these letters, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities also submitted letters, emphasizing the importance of avoiding preempting state level laws regarding agriculture production.
“As a proud American and lifelong producer, I’m elated to see our members rally and rise up to defeat industrial agriculture and their backers in China on a level never seen before,” said Jonathan Buttram, President of the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association and Treasurer at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “The industrial agriculture mafia is petrified of our work and the OFF Act because they see the writing on the wall and we hope they soon meet the same fate as New York’s infamous ‘Five Families.’”
“Since the inception of these programs, illegal relationships between checkoff boards and lobbying organizations have formed,” said Mike Schultz, founder of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association, and Vice-President at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “Hundreds of millions of dollars have been misused, and these checkoff programs, as they are currently being managed, do not work in the best interests of independent family famers.”
“American family farmers are in peril and are fighting for their livelihoods under assault by the Hinson-Marshall EATS Act and its backers in China,” said Marty Irby, President of Competitive Markets Action and Secretary at the Organization for Competitive Markets. “The gloves are off and groups like the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Pork Producers Council that have long-hijacked the voice of independent producers are finally being exposed for what they truly are – puppets of the Chinese government and multi-national conglomerates like Smithfield. The American Family Farmer Nation is finally rising up.”
In June, OCM and CMA launched a campaign against the EATS Act which included ad buys in Politico Morning and Weekly Ag for three full weeks in June and one full week in July, as well as ad buys that included a takeover of The Daily Caller’s homepage six times as well as radio ads in key Congressional Districts, and a billboard truck on Capitol Hill, the last half of July that’ll be returning for the full month of September and beyond. The ads encourage voters to contact their elected officials and ask them to vote no on any Farm Bill that contains the EATS Act. OCM and CMA plan to continue the ad campaign throughout the course of 2023, or until the Farm Bill is finalized and enacted. OCM and CMA also conducted a fly-in to Washington, D.C. in July and engaged in nearly 100 meetings on the OFF and EATS Acts during that event as well. In addition to their grassroots advocacy CMA is represented on the EATS Act by several lobbying firms including Capitol South, LLC, and Conaway-Graves, led by former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-TX.
The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Lincoln, Nebraska. The foundation of the Organization for Competitive Markets is to fight for competitive markets in agriculture for farmers, ranchers and rural communities. True competition reduces the need for economic regulation. Our mission, and our duty, is to define and advocate the proper role of government in the agricultural economy as a regulator and enforcer of rules necessary for markets that are fair, honest, accessible and competitive for all citizens.
Competitive Markets Action (CMA) is a 501(c)(4) non-profit based in Washington, D.C., that was formed with the mission of shaping policy to promote more regenerative and sustainable agriculture, and competitive markets in the U.S., and to defend against attacks on states’ rights by the federal government. CMA works to raise awareness of the harm caused by multinational conglomerates to the American family farmer, the consumer and our U.S. economy as a whole in an effort to bring about legislative and regulatory reforms.