by John Crabtree, email@example.com
A USDA Inspector General’s audit released on January 18, 2006 found that the Packers and Stockyards Administration has fundamentally failed to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act – the best assurance farmers and ranchers have that livestock markets will be fair, open and competitive.
Senior officials in the Packers and Stockyards Administration blocked investigations from being referred to USDA lawyers or the Justice Department and employees of the agency were instructed to create the appearance of enforcement activity by recording everything from routine correspondence and review of public data as “investigations.”
The Packers and Stockyards Administration perpetrated a lie, and disillusioned farmers and ranchers in the process. It is wrong for government to turn a blind eye to citizens’ concerns. It is worse when government tells citizens that their concerns are valid and, through pretense and deception, leads citizens to believe that their concerns are being addressed.
Livestock market competition laws are supported by a vast majority of farmers, ranchers and rural citizens, regardless of geography or political affiliation. USDA’s failed enforcement has gone on far too long and has occurred irrespective of the Administration’s party affiliation.
James Link, new director of the Packers and Stockyards Administration, has inherited a severe problem. We hope he will fix it. But the time has come for Congress to act, addressing the lack of competition in livestock markets with legislative reforms and clear directions for enforcement.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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