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LAG Player OCM:Attacks Cattle Marketing System PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Wednesday, 08 December 2004

It is understandable that cattlemen trying to follow factions in agriculture these days are having a hard time keeping the players straight on their scorecard.

They not only have to figure out new teams and players, but understand unfamiliar motivations and new coalitions.  These new players are smart enough to divvy up responsibilities and attack our American agricultural system on multiple fronts.  They definitely share philosophies, tactics and some directors and members.  The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is one of those relatively new players, working with other players like R-CALF and the Livestock Marketing Association.
The OCM was founded with the help of Ralph Nader in 1998.  OCM bills itself as a group formed to "challenge the growing income power disparities between agricultural producers and agribusinesses in the food system."  They also describe themselves as an "agricultural antitrust organization," with board members that include ranchers, lawyers and a faith group representative.

OCM's annual meeting was the setting earlier this summer for a gathering of representatives from these fringe agricultural groups, along with those from Nader-founded activist groups, social justice and religious groups.   It was also where the "USDA Inc." report was released.  That report castigated USDA for having ag industry people on staff and for alleged policy decisions favoring "large" (more than 1,000 head) cattle operations.  The report highlighted these groups' opposition to confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and corporations of any kind being involved in agriculture, and decried USDA's handling of the BSE incident, meat inspection and foreign trade.

One has to consider a key class of players in these new organizations - attorneys.  Attorneys can be farmers, too.  But they farm industries ?fields of dispute and unrest?with one goal in mind?taking money from somewhere and putting it in the pockets of clients and themselves.  Along the way, they can totally rework how entire industries function.  Just as trial lawyers farmed and harvested the tobacco field until they had reaped huge sums from corporations and insurance companies, they are actively casting about now for new fields, like obesity in America.  Their theory is that if something isn't quite right?or can be cast in that light?someone should be made to pay.

These attorneys are looking to nurture the unrest inevitable in the transitions going on in agriculture, to see if they could make some money.  Lawsuits against packers have been a popular method for years.  OCM was active in nurturing and supporting the Pickett case against IBP/Tyson.  The lead law firm in that case was Domina Law of Omaha.  Ever heard of  Domina, along with several other firms who are working on related cases against Excel and Swift, are part of
By the way, the main staff person and the chief counsel for OCM is Michael Stumo.  That must be just one of his jobs since he is also one of the attorneys associated with Domina's firm and worked on the Pickett case.  His specialty is anti-trust law.
But the attorneys see this as just the beginning.  They want to enlarge the field.  OCM has established a "Litigation Clearinghouse" for those interested in "litigating agricultural competition and trade practice issues."  The Clearinghouse  is to provide a central information base for litigation against agribusiness and big corporations.  They note that, "This concept has been used successfully in such areas as tobacco, asbestos and tire defect litigation."  Is it a good idea when these predators target your industry?

Only if you have nothing to lose.
Next time: Money Sources

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 24 June 2006 )
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