Economic battle has just begun By Sen Frank Kloucek First, I think the people who made SB 95 possible. Rep. Rollie Chicoine, Sen Jim Hutmacher, Rep. Bob Weber, Rep. Kevin Crisp, Phil Syre, Johnny Smith, Dennis Hanson, Bob Mack, Sen. Paul Symens, Jerry and Lou Roseth, Dean Schremp, Herman Schumacher, Mike Callicrate, Jerry Biedenfeld, Mike Karrels, Ralph Duxbury, Don Hoogestraat, Farmers Union, Dakota Rural Action, South Dakota Livestock Market Association, Center for Rural Affairs, South Dakota Congressional Delegation, bipartisan legislative support, thousands of independent producers, consumers and South Dakotans of all kinds who supported this historic legislation. It is the first mandatory price reporting legislation to become law on either a state or national level. As South Dakota goes, so goes the nation. Four other states have adopted livestock price reporting legislation. On the national level, our legislation has forced the meat packers to the negotiating table for the first time in earnest.
SB 95 was drafted carefully by using model language from Sen. Jack Kibbie of Iowa, other Midwestern legislators' ideas and the price reporting policy of many farm groups and individuals. Many experts for constitutionality and accuracy reviewed SB 95. It was set up to 1) Require packers to report information daily on all livestock transactions including all contracts, cash sales, packer owned livestock and all livestock purchased for slaughter in this state. 2) Obtain information in a useable meaningful form consistent with how producers market their animals. 3) Force packers to meet clear concise criteria that allow them to pay discriminatory prices. In other words, they have to give specific, justifiable reasons why they paid different prices for similar livestock. 4) Provide treble damages for discrimination to make sure that packers cooperated. Currently federal law provides no such recourse for producers. 5) Promote market transparency.
South Dakota's price reporting law federal court case will always be a huge victory for the people of South Dakota because 1) It exposed the true intentions and buying practices of Smithfield Foods. 2) Smithfield Foods has specifically admitted giving pricing preference to entities such as Prairieland Pork and others. 3) They have presented their contracts and other documentation to the court which gives very strong indications that they are violating federal law. 4) They have given strong indications that GIPSA is not doing an effective job of enforcement. 5) The arrogance of their legal team to refer to SB 95 as a target rich simulated war game environment only reinforces price reporting supporters' arguments. This is not a war game. It is an economic war that independent producers are going to win one state and one battle at a time.
No matter how the bill was written, the high powered Meat Institute was coming after it. In doing so, the industry has showed its dark side. The intimidation tactics used on the Sioux Falls Stockyards and independent producers clearly show that the packers are an under regulated monopoly. In Judge Kornmann's own words "Don't even go there!" showed that the packers could not convince him that there was not concentration in the industry.
Extreme disappointment at the inaction of the state secretary of agriculture, the action and words of bureaucrats from the Farm Bureau, pork producers and cattlemen's state organizations and the Sioux Falls Stockyards continue to concern me. Where was your courage to propose state legislation and proactive amendments to get the job done during the session? If the meat packers can misinterpret SB 95 as a reason to discriminate against the S.F. Stockyards, what will keep them from running us all out of business at any time they see fit? At times it appeared the packers did a better job of reporting their twisted interpretation of the bill than they do of voluntary federal reporting of livestock purchases.
Finally, I thank the Attorney General, Larry Long, Charlie McGuigan and the entire staff for their help. Price fairness and the future of independent ag. producers is an economic battle that is not over. It has only just begun. Thank you to the grassroots people of South Dakota. The unity that this legislation has credited will be a dominant force in South Dakota politics for years to come. The battle is only beginning for price fairness and a positive future for our independent producers.