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OCM Part II: Revealing Partners PDF Print E-mail
Written by Steve Dittmer   
Tuesday, 14 December 2004

Last issue, we talked about the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and their goal of using anti-trust law to make money by breaking up the packing industry and making it illegal for cattlemen to contract with packers.

As a new project to aid attorneys in "farming" agriculture as a new source of lawsuits, OCM has started a "Litigation Clearinghouse," similar to ones used for lawsuits in the tobacco, asbestos and tire industries.

One of the sponsors of the Clearinghouse is Farm Aid.  They are an organization that seems to have strayed a long way from its roots.  The other two sponsors of the Clearinghouse are obscure to cattlemen but interesting partners for OCM and LAG groups like R-CALF opposing mainstream agriculture. . .

The Educational Foundation of America is a philanthropic group concerned about overpopulation and abortion rights, the environment, drugs and trade policy.  They have awarded grants to the Environmental Defense Fund for KAW (Keep Antibiotics Working), a campaign opposing antibiotic use in farm animals; the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a long-time opponent of the meat industry; the Union of Concerned Scientists, which opposes antibiotic use in animals and genetic modification and have underwritten a PBS show examining the medical use of marijuana.

The other sponsor is the Stern Family Fund whose five-member board boasts two representatives from Public Citizen, the Nader-founded consumer activist group.  Besides being involved with OCM opposing free-market agriculture, Public Citizen has also filed a brief in the legal case supporting the Livestock Markets Association in its effort to kill the checkoff.  Public Citizen considers American beef to be unsafe and unsanitary unless it is organically produced and falsely reported a second U.S. BSE case.

Public Citizen has a project called Global Trade Watch, which provides direction for the Citizens for Trade Campaign (CTC).  CTC opposes global free trade and counts as coalition members the Teamsters, the Steelworkers, Communications Workers, the National Farmers Union, National Family Farm Coalition, the Defenders of Wildlife, the Methodist Church and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC).  The Stern Family Fund has given grants for union election campaigns, numerous anti-business and anti-corporate campaigns and to, the leftist citizen advocacy organization originally founded to encourage Washington to "move on" and forget President Clinton's transgressions during the impeachment furor.  MoveOn is now also involved in energy and environmental protection causes, the peace movement, campaign finance reform and tax and economic policy.

If you are not convinced that R-CALF's allies like OCM and Public Citizen are farming agriculture for lawsuits and causes, consider this.  OCM's  annual conference itself was sponsored in large measure by two law firms.  One, Berman DeValerio et al., has offices in San Francisco, Boston and West Palm Beach.  It specializes in anti-trust law and currently has cases it is litigating against food and food processing companies involving high fructose corn syrup and artificial sausage casings.  Their cases often involve allegations of conspiracy and price fixing.  The other law firm, Woodfill & Pressler, is part of the team handling the case against Excel and Swift.  Think they're promoting good customer relations perhaps?

The emerging picture is that of fringe ag groups allied with legal and activist groups that oppose the American free market system on a regular basis.  Groups like R-CALF, angered by the changes occurring in the beef industry and frustrated with the response of NCBA and the government, have found "soulmates" in law firms looking for new fields to till and social activist groups who oppose the American capitalist system and big business the world over.  OCM has a foot in both camps, serving as a legal and financial bridge.

Next issue: The fallacies OCM nurtures.

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