WHY FARM PUBLICATIONS AND FARM BROADCASTERS WON’T TELL THE TRUTH
November 2, 2010
As Ben Roberts so eloquently stated in his book, Past, Present, and How We Can Survive For The Future in the Beef Cattle Business, “Five generations of cattlemen have lived through repeated successions of boom and bust. The ups and downs were serious problems in the past. Today, they cause even greater hardships, and cattlemen are squarely against the need to smooth out the problems we have in the beef cattle industry.” As far back as the 1860’s, four families, Swift, Armour, Hammond and Morris, launched the meat packing business and soon found that by working together they could control the meat market to their mutual advantage. The meat packing industry and the way packers secure their livestock has changed very little in almost 150 years. Today only four companies control the beef business: Tyson – Cargill – JBS Swift – National Beef. Today’s system of marketing slaughter-ready cattle is rigged and the cattle producers are abused.
In 1921 Congress realized that livestock farmers didn’t have a FAIR marketplace and passed the Packers & Stockyards Act. This 89 year old law has never been fully enforced. Recently the United States Department of Agriculture, along with the Department of Justice, decided to level the playing field between the meat industry and the livestock and poultry producers, to allow farmers and ranchers to receive a fair price for their production.
On August 27th, the USDA and the DOJ held a workshop type meeting in Ft. Collins, Colorado where the public could be heard. Approximately 2000 farmers, ranchers and consumers packed the meeting place. During the all day session many voices were heard and the meat industry was there in full force to discourage the USDA and the DOJ from doing their job. The agricultural (farm) news media, just like ABC – NBC – CNN and the other secular news companies, is controlled by their advertisers. The big spenders – the multinational corporations – control what goes out over the air, what is printed and who receives the information.
R-CALF President, Dr. Max Thornsberry, pointed out how the farm publications tried to “down play” the Ft. Collins meeting and discourage farmers and ranchers from attending. Dr. Thornsberry quoted: Beef Magazine, “The meeting in Ft. Collins will inevitably be looked back on as a colossal waste of time and energy; it will do nothing to affect real opportunities like building beef demand. The meeting will be a sideshow, but the rules and their effects are anything but.”
Beef Today reported, “They seem to be shooting into the wind. I bet there’s some of that very kind of shooting at Ft. Collins next week.” Drover’s Journal stated, “The parade of cowboys from both sides to Ft. Collins is wasted effort and wasted resources.” Dr. Max stated, “These editorials attempted to discourage attendance or draw attention away from the joint hearing on competition in animal agriculture, before the meeting even took place.”
For over 40 years I was a member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters and the multinational corporations were many of my accounts. Up until the last decade I considered most of those farm supply companies to be honest, reputable and fair minded businesses. I’m sure there are still a few honest corporations out there who really want to help their customers, but a majority of the CEOs of those multinationals look only at the bottom line of the balance sheet.
It’s one thing that so many of these large corporations mistreat the people they rely on for their profits, but the fact that the agriculture media promotes them is pathetic. Just as the farm publications won’t “write” the truth about these companies, the farm broadcasters won’t “tell” the truth. Many of the writers and talkers don’t know any better, but the majority are afraid to speak out for fear of losing the “advertising dollars.” Since I receive no advertising dollars from Tyson, Cargill, Monsanto or any of the biggies, gaining enough income to stay on the air becomes a problem, even so, I will continue to inform my listeners as to what is taking place.
These corporations send audio messages, news releases and interviews to broadcasters and publishers who use them exactly as the public relations firms have them written. My conscience will not allow me to be a spokesperson for an organization that is destroying American farm life, which made this nation great.
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Dr. Max has an excellent idea. He says: “I think to be an editor of one of these magazines it should be a requirement to have to feed two pens of fat cattle a year, and to independently market them.” This should hold true for farm broadcasters as well. I’ve been farming since I was 16 years old and in 62 years of buying, selling and being taken advantage of, I have learned a lot. It’s sad that the bulk of the farm media have become nothing more than choir members that sing the lyrics written by their advertisers.
© 2010 Derry Brownfield - All Rights Reserved