Drovers: Commentary: Industry Insiders Doing the Bidding Of Agribusiness Again!

Commentary: Industry Insiders Doing the Bidding Of Agribusiness Again!

Wes Shoemyer

October 8, 2019

The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of Wes Shoemyer, a farmer from Monroe County, Missouri.

In a big ag hit piece “Identity Theft: How #FairCattleMarkets Was Hijacked” published in Drovers October 3rd, the authors (Kate Miller and Kim Hardan) attacked me and many I call friends. For folks who claim they want to include all kinds of farmers, they sure don’t seem to like anyone who speaks out against corporate power and corruption.

The most noticeable fact in their personal “hit” job is that the authors did not challenge a single policy position that those named to include myself are fighting for and that were laid out at the Rally to Stop the Stealin’ in Omaha. We were calling on President Trump and Secretary Perdue to stop the USMCA deal if it doesn’t include country of origin labeling on beef and pork, to stop foreign meat from entering this country and being relabeled as “Product of the USA”, to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act and stand up to the 4 giant meatpackers who control over 80% of beef in this country to stop stealin’ from family farmers and ranchers.

As to the authors’ personal attacks, as a farmer and cattle producer, I’m sick and tired of being told that my checkoff dollars being used against me isn’t a rigged system that needs reform. I’m sick and tired of being told if I speak out against big meatpackers that I’m a threat to the industry. I’m sick and tired of being told that consumers don’t have a right to know what country their beef came from. I’m sick and tired of being told that if I don’t agree with an organization 100% I can’t work with them where we have common ground.

Industry insiders constantly try to sling mud and make people like me out to be an evil supervillain to keep the rest of the farmers and ranchers from focusing on the real issues. We are getting screwed by the packer monopolies. They are the real enemy not each other.

When I served in the Missouri State Legislature I was a fierce advocate for independent family farmers. I worked with allies with a wide range of backgrounds and ideologies to fight the concentration of power within our food system and the extraction of wealth from our rural communities. As I continued that fight I have found that many times those that claim to be the voice of agriculture are really the voice of big food monopolies, like JBS, who are increasingly foreign-owned, trying to keep farmers and ranchers in line and our hand out of their profit jar.

I find it alarming that the authors turned their pen on me, an independent family farmer from Missouri, but failed to mention how Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue told Wisconsin farmers “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out.” The reason I chose to speak at the rally in Omaha is that I don’t believe big multinational agribusiness should get richer and the rest of us should just go out. I believe that family farmers and ranchers are the backbone of our rural communities and we need more not less.

Ms. Miller and Ms. Harden, could it be that it is easier for you to attack the messenger than be truthful about being on the side of the packer monopolies and their interest groups like NCBA?