Justice on the Range | Civil Eats

Justice on the Range

An over-capacity crowd packed into the Ft. Collins, Colorado, Marriott last night for a spirited town hall about the impact of corporate concentration on the livestock industry. Extra chairs had to be brought in and the room’s dividing wall removed to accommodate at least 350 people, many in cowboy hats, who are in town for today’s Department of Justice/USDA workshop on Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy, this one focused on livestock.

The evening started with a panel including a cow/calf operator, a labor leader, and other ranchers. Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch brought in the consumer angle and made the connection between consolidation and food safety—much like she’s been doing on many major news outlets this week, talking about the massive egg recall. Bill Bullard, CEO of the independent cattle union R-CALF talked about the crisis in the livestock industry and brought the crowd to its feet with his calls for change.

Dozens of people made statements, many in preparation for the public comment period at today’s workshop. Comments came from farmers, ranchers, farmers’ market promoters, local food advocates, workers from Kentucky, a hog grower from Minnesota, a young woman who works on aquaculture projects in Denver, a food justice activist from Chicago, a consumer concerned about food safety, a Missouri sociologist, and many more. Speakers came from the Dakotas, Nevada, Wyoming, Montana, Kansas, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Virginia. They talked about their struggles on their farms, struggles with corporations, and many years of struggles with the government, trying to get enforcement of laws that would give all producers – not just big ones—a fair shake in the marketplace. And they talked about unity and solidarity—“worker and farmer cooperation like this country has never seen before!”; engaging everyone “from farm to fork”—and working together all across the food chain to demand the change we need.

They’re all speaking out to government officials on these same themes at the Justice Department workshop today; you can take action too, by telling USDA to enact proposed new rules that would restore fairness to the livestock industry. Send a brief comment here, and feel like you’re here with us in Fort Collins! For background on the antitrust workshops, see my series Bust the Trust to Take Back Control of Our Food and my report from the dairy workshop in Madison, WI. Also, take a look at our video series Who Controls Our Food? Check back next week for more about today’s workshop; the government reports that over 1200 people have registered, so they may find themselves bringing in chairs and moving walls as well.

We’ll bring the news to you.

Get the weekly Civil Eats newsletter, delivered to your inbox.

Today’s food system is complex.

Invest in nonprofit journalism that tells the whole story.

Siena Chrisman is a Brooklyn-based writer and researcher addressing agriculture policy and social justice. Her work has appeared in Modern Farmer, Edible Brooklyn, Grist, and others, and she is currently working on a book about the 1980s farm crisis. Read more at www.sienachrisman.com. Read more >

Like the story?
Join the conversation.

  1. Anna
    Thanks for coming and reporting back from the public forum. There were actually 500 people there!
  2. I see a future where farmers can simply post to local facebook groups or Tweet when food is available for sale, and consumers can come pick it up. How's that for farm to fork? People want to support local farmers... let's figure out how to do it using the technology available.

More from

Farm Bill

Featured

Leticia Zavala (left) gives a speech in an effort to unseat the Farm Labor Organizing Committee's current and only president Baldemar Velasquez (right). (Photo credit: Grey Moran)

A Contested Election Is Fracturing a Farmworkers’ Union

Baldemar Velasquez has presided over the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, the nation’s second-largest farmworker union, for its entire 55-year history. This year, he faced a challenger in a contested election for the first time. Chaos ensued.

Popular

For Some Food Professionals, COVID Has Cast a Long Shadow on Their Senses

A food professional with long covid smells coffee to overcome anosmia and parosmia

As Grocery Stores Get Bigger, Small Farms Get Squeezed Out

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 13: Produce is offered for sale at a grocery store on October 13, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. According to government data released today, the food at home index, a measure of grocery store prices, increased 0.7% in September from the month prior and saw a 13% increase over the last year. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Op-ed: Some Regenerative Farms Are Weathering California’s Unprecedented Rainfall

SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 09: In an aerial view, water floods a vineyard on January 09, 2023 in Santa Rosa, California. The San Francisco Bay Area and much of Northern California continues to get drenched by powerful atmospheric river events that have brought high winds and flooding rains. The storms have toppled trees, flooded roads and cut power to tens of thousands. Storms are lined up over the Pacific Ocean and are expected to bring more rain and wind through the end of the week. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Farm Credit Administration’s First Indigenous Chairman Wants to Level the Playing Field

Eldrige Hoy, left, and Bryson Sam, members of the Choctaw Nation, seed a high tunnel with Iron Clay peas as a cover crop to improve soil quality. (USDA photo by Bob Nichols)