Open Letter to Secretary Vilsack
J. Dudley Butler
Dear Secretary Vilsack,
When I first began working for you in May of 2009, I was informed by some of your senior advisors that it was their job to protect your legacy. I informed them that if you were true to your word, your legacy would take care of itself. It is apparent now that your legacy will be that of a man of grandiose promises but one who never fulfills them to the many hard working family farmers and ranchers of this county. In cowboy lingo, you will be remembered as “all hat and no cattle”.
However, after reading Chris Clayton’s recent article about your interview concerning the beef checkoff you seem to have stooped to a new low. I can defend you no longer.
You know that the report language from the House Appropriations Committee concerning the so-called second beef checkoff has no legally binding effect on your powers as Secretary. You know it is not a “rider”. You know that it is not even part of the law and was not voted on by Congress. You know that once the new beef checkoff is put in place that you can put the old beef checkoff in mothballs.
Many producers, conservative and progressive, believed your promises and were hopeful for a new day at USDA. Some took brave stances based on your promises to their own peril. Instead, they got more of the same – an agency controlled by the big food companies and the big meat packers as well as their minions like NCBA and NPPC. Your lack of leadership has ensured that independent cattle producers will continue to be systematically pushed toward the slaughterhouse of vertical integration.
Enclosed herein is the Federal Register link for the comments concerning the beef checkoff and these comments clearly dispute what you told Mr. Clayton. Your statement that all agree the beef checkoff should be increased is unconscionable and rises to the level of an outright lie.
Your recent proposal that there be a second checkoff reveals your tendency to shirk your duties and flee at the first sign of adversity. Instead of proposing a second checkoff, you should have addressed the corruption and conflicts of interest in the current program. Notwithstanding, the second checkoff could be implemented to correct obvious irregularities and illegalities and the old checkoff put on the shelf, but again you fled at the first sign of adversity. Under your watch the beef checkoff money paid by producers, like me, has been improperly collected, mismanaged and misappropriated. Under your watch there continues to be a “cover up” of these abuses. What is particularly appalling is for you to now blame the many hard working family farmers and ranchers of this county for failures in the checkoff instead of your ineptness. This is the very same excuse you made when you failed to support better enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act and the new GIPSA rules.
Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated that a genuine leader does not search for consensus, he molds consensus. It is your job to fulfill your oath and your promises. It is your job to oversee the beef checkoff and ensure it is managed in accordance with the law. It is your job to suspend any contracts with parties whose behavior violates the intent and purpose of the beef checkoff. Frankly, it is your job to fix the beef checkoff. It is not the job of the hard working producers that pay this “cattle tax”. When is the last time you have had to actually make a living in the real world like cattle producers are required to do. I believe you have been at the public trough so long that you have forgotten what it takes and what they have to endure every day.
You have lost any credibility that you may have had when you were appointed Secretary. You now seem to exemplify the old saying, “politicians are like bananas, they come in green, turn yellow and then get rotten.”
It is obvious that the courage required to implement the changes promised by this administration and to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the Secretary of Agriculture are far beyond your capabilities. If you have a scintilla of integrity left in your being you should do the only honorable thing and submit your resignation to President Obama immediately.
J. DUDLEY BUTLER
J. Dudley Butler worked under Secretary Vilsack as Grain Inspection Packers and Stockyard (GIPSA) Administrator. Left without the necessary support from the administration to do his job of protecting market competition, he resigned. Butler isn’t afraid to expose corruption and continues to fight for the rights of family farmers and ranchers and for a fair and competitive marketplace.