Chicken farmers find out Trump isn't their hero

Blueneck

Former Staff
Jun 2007
54,277
41,013
Ohio
#1
I had no idea the meat industry had become so consolidated.

By late 2016, many of the nation’s 25,000 chicken farmers said they had grown bitterly frustrated by the administration of President Barack Obama.

Under Obama, top officials had promised to help farmers by tightening regulations on meat processing companies, which for decades had been growing bigger and more powerful. The industry consolidation extended to beef, dairy and pork as well as poultry, but the Obama administration was particularly concerned about the effects on farmers who raise chickens on contract for giants such as Tyson Foods and Pilgrim’s Pride.

Farmers complained that they had been lured into the business with rosy profit projections only to discover that the processing companies — which they depend on for supplies of chicks and feed — could suddenly change their contract terms to impose additional costs or drop them for any reason.

By the time the Obama administration finally pushed through the rules meant to address these problems in December 2016, Donald Trump, a Republican, had won the White House, backed by many farmers who said they had been let down by Obama, a Democrat.
So they voted for Trump, and guess what he did?

Over the last two years, Trump appointees have not only reversed the regulations put in place at the end of Obama’s presidency, they have retreated from enforcing the preexisting rules. The Trump administration dissolved the office charged with policing meat companies for cheating and defrauding farmers. Fines for breaking the rules dropped to $243,850 in 2018, less than 10% of what they were five years earlier.

This is what happens when you vote to burn it all down by electing an idiot for president.

The administration’s moves underscore its ties with the meat industry. One of the largest donations supporting Trump during the campaign was a $2 million super PAC contribution from a poultry magnate, and several industry stalwarts took positions with the Trump transition team or in the Agriculture Department.

The administration’s siding with big meat companies over small farmers is already becoming campaign fodder for Trump’s opponents. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have vowed to restore the Obama-era regulations and dust off atrophied antitrust laws to break up big meat companies.
So now the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost.

Chicken farmers who considered themselves staunch Trump supporters say their worsening circumstances since he took office are making them reconsider their votes. Mike Weaver, a West Virginia farmer, said he gave up raising chickens this year after the company wanted him to waive his right to sue — something the Obama administration’s rules would have prevented.

“I made excuses for him for a while, thinking he’s going to eventually get a grasp on the dire situation small family farmers are in,” Weaver said of Trump. “It hasn’t happened yet. If it doesn’t happen by the next election, I’m going to tell everybody some of the promises he made were never kept and I don’t see it changing.”
Trump does not understand nor care about the plight of small business, he didn't build his own business from the ground up and he uses other people's money to expand it.

the five biggest chicken companies — Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, Perdue Farms and Koch Foods — exert “such comprehensive control” over the contractors who raise chickens for them that the Small Business Administration’s inspector general said these farmers should no longer qualify as independent small businesses. (The SBA hasn’t decided whether to follow that recommendation.)
This is what gets me:

In the early years of the Obama administration, top officials visited farmers in Iowa, Alabama and Wisconsin — places where the Tea Party backlash was giving Democrats trouble with white working-class voters — and promised help to those who said the system was rigged against them.

“This is a top priority for today’s Department of Justice,” Attorney General Eric Holder told the crowd in an auditorium at Alabama A&M University in May 2010.

*snip*

Ultimately, the meetings and promises didn’t lead to action by the Justice Department. In 2012, the Antitrust Division issued a 24-page report summarizing farmers’ concerns but concluding that many, or possibly most, of them “fall outside the purview of the antitrust laws.”

The USDA, however, proposed regulations in June 2010 designed to address many of the chicken farmers’ chief complaints. The rules would clarify prohibited practices, such as retaliating against farmers and terminating their contracts without notice. They would make it easier for farmers to sue, without their having to show that companies were harming competition across the industry, an almost impossibly high bar to clear. And they would restrict chicken companies from using the tournament system to mislead farmers about their projected income or to favor some farmers over others by providing unequal quality of chicks and feed.

“The rules addressed fraud, bad faith, retaliation and denial of due process,” said Dudley Butler, a Mississippi lawyer who helped develop the new rules in the USDA during the Obama administration.

The meat industry opposed the proposed regulations and lobbied Congress to block them. Meatpackers spend more than $4 million a year on lobbying, and the top recipient of their campaign contributions in the 2014 House elections was Jack Kingston, a Georgia Republican who led the agriculture appropriations subcommittee. The House Appropriations Committee also included Steve Womack, an Arkansas Republican whose district is home to Tyson Foods, the biggest chicken company.

When annual funding bills made their way through Kingston’s and Womack’s panels, lawmakers inserted a prohibition against USDA staff spending any time to work on finishing the regulations. Republicans on the Appropriations Committee said the rules would “allow harmful government interference in the private market for the livestock and poultry industry.”

Spokespeople for Womack and Kingston didn’t answer requests for comment. Kingston retired from Congress in 2015 and became a lobbyist.

With Congress barring the USDA from working on the regulations, the Obama administration could not put them into effect. At a 2014 meeting with farmers who supported the regulations, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told them they’d been outgunned by the industry. “You don’t have enough horses,” Vilsack said, according to two people present: Joe Maxwell, executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, a populist advocacy group for farmers; and Chris Petersen, a hog farmer from Clear Lake, Iowa. Vilsack didn’t respond to requests for comment. (He’s now head of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, which did not have a position on the regulations.)

In December 2016, the USDA released a watered-down version of its 2010 proposal. The agency published an interim final ruleon making it easier for farmers to sue. The agency also proposed a rule spelling out deceptive practices and another against using the tournament system to treat farmers unequally. But under the legal process for implementing new regulations, these rules couldn’t take effect for several more months. That left them vulnerable to being changed by the incoming administration.
And guess what the incoming Trump administration did?

“We’d love to see them do nothing,” Colin Woodall, a lobbyist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said. “The action the secretary took to stop this is exactly what we wanted. We believe the USDA’s efforts are better focused on implementing and enforcing the Packers and Stockyards Act as it exists.”

But that’s not happening either. The staff in the office responsible for enforcing the law has dwindled to 137, from 166 in 2010. In 2017, the most recent data available, the office finished 1,873 investigations, down from 2,588 in 2012. The office suspended five people and companies for violating the Packers and Stockyards Act in 2017, down from 34 in 2013.
They slowed down enforcement of existing rules after getting rid of the Obama rules.

And:

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue also has eliminated the enforcement office as an independent administration within the USDA, moving it under the Agricultural Marketing Service, the branch of USDA whose primary mission is facilitating sales for big agriculture companies. In a memo, he described the reorganization as “Improving Industry Engagement.”
"Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue" is all you need to hear to know what's going on here. The fox guarding the hen house, if you will.

Chicken Farmers Thought Trump Was Going to Help Them. Then His Administration Did the Opposite. — ProPublica

Trump is not good for business except for the big guys. And I bet he doesn't even know about this because all he does all day long is piss and moan about the media & the Mueller report and then go golfing. This frustrates me because I'm sure there are plenty of people planning to vote for him again because they have no idea what he's actually doing, or more accurately, what his swampmaster appointees are doing.
'
I really wish stories like this would get more attention.
 
Feb 2011
17,455
11,943
The formerly great golden state
#2
I had no idea the meat industry had become so consolidated.



So they voted for Trump, and guess what he did?




This is what happens when you vote to burn it all down by electing an idiot for president.



So now the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost.



Trump does not understand nor care about the plight of small business, he didn't build his own business from the ground up and he uses other people's money to expand it.



This is what gets me:



And guess what the incoming Trump administration did?



They slowed down enforcement of existing rules after getting rid of the Obama rules.

And:



"Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue" is all you need to hear to know what's going on here. The fox guarding the hen house, if you will.

Chicken Farmers Thought Trump Was Going to Help Them. Then His Administration Did the Opposite. — ProPublica

Trump is not good for business except for the big guys. And I bet he doesn't even know about this because all he does all day long is piss and moan about the media & the Mueller report and then go golfing. This frustrates me because I'm sure there are plenty of people planning to vote for him again because they have no idea what he's actually doing, or more accurately, what his swampmaster appointees are doing.
'
I really wish stories like this would get more attention.



I expect you're right that Trump doesn't know about what is going on. All he's concerned about is the president, i.e., himself. It really is too bad the evening news doesn't have time to air more stories like this one, but they must spend most of their time selling pills and cars.

Will those farmers vote for Trump again? Well, it is more difficult to admit you've been fooled than it is to be fooled in the first place. They just might.
 
Feb 2011
17,455
11,943
The formerly great golden state
#3
I had no idea the meat industry had become so consolidated.



So they voted for Trump, and guess what he did?




This is what happens when you vote to burn it all down by electing an idiot for president.



So now the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost.



Trump does not understand nor care about the plight of small business, he didn't build his own business from the ground up and he uses other people's money to expand it.



This is what gets me:



And guess what the incoming Trump administration did?



They slowed down enforcement of existing rules after getting rid of the Obama rules.

And:



"Agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue" is all you need to hear to know what's going on here. The fox guarding the hen house, if you will.

Chicken Farmers Thought Trump Was Going to Help Them. Then His Administration Did the Opposite. — ProPublica

Trump is not good for business except for the big guys. And I bet he doesn't even know about this because all he does all day long is piss and moan about the media & the Mueller report and then go golfing. This frustrates me because I'm sure there are plenty of people planning to vote for him again because they have no idea what he's actually doing, or more accurately, what his swampmaster appointees are doing.
'
I really wish stories like this would get more attention.



I expect you're right that Trump doesn't know about what is going on. All he's concerned about is the president, i.e., himself. It really is too bad the evening news doesn't have time to air more stories like this one, but they must spend most of their time selling pills and cars.

Will those farmers vote for Trump again? Well, it is more difficult to admit you've been fooled than it is to be fooled in the first place. They just might.
 
Feb 2011
17,455
11,943
The formerly great golden state
#5
So, when I posted the above, the little green line went across the page again and again and again. When it timed out, I tried posting again. Same thing, just slow, nothing happening. When I refreshed the page, I saw that it had posted twice, so I went to delete one. Hit edit. Green line, over and over and over, finally timed out. Now, edit function doesn't work.

Once in a while, this site goes into snail mode. It takes forever to click like, to click reply, to do anything, then it times out and does nothing.

Anyone else having this problem? Is it this site, my computer, or my internet I wonder?