Rancher takes on Tyson Foods
by Retha Colclasure
Article from KFYR-TV
Beef is king in the Dakotas.
And it`s how Herman Schumacher has made his living, by running a livestock auction.
But a few years ago, he found out that he was being cheated.
He was selling his beef to Tyson, but the mega-meat packing company used inaccurate prices that the USDA had published, and bought the beef for much less than market value.
So he took them to court.
Now, Herman Schumacher isn`t allowed to go into his own home.
"They took me by surprise. They completely blindsided me," he says.
This "no trespassing" sign came after a jury said Tyson knowingly cheated Schumacher, and thousands of other producers, out of millions of dollars. But the decision was reversed on appeal. And Tyson went after Schumacher to recover court costs.
"I think they`re doing it to make an example out of me, and that is that we`re in charge. Meaning that if you speak out, you take us to court, this is what ill happen. We will come and take your home," Schumacher says.
He, with R-CALF supporting him, says Tyson and other mega meat packers are abusing the little guy, illegally manipulating prices, and getting away with it.
"It`s not only too big to fail, folks, it`s too big to regulate. USDA is afraid to touch Tyson. Congress is afraid to touch Tyson. And what we`ve learned here at Schumacher`s front door is that the court system is afraid to touch Tyson," says Bill Bullars, CEO of R-CALF USA.
The heart of the issue is the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. The act is designed to keep corporations from cheating producers out of their money. But R-CALF says it`s not being enforced.
"When we lose our markets, we lose our freedom. When we lose our markets and we fight the people who stole the markets, you see what Herman gets on his door. You not only potentially lose your freedom, you potentially lose your house," says Mike Callicrate, another plaintiff in the case.
They also lost millions of dollars that Tyson kept when buying their beef.
R-CALF says its not just an issue about producers, this affects consumers as well when it comes to food safety and security.
"Through the abusive and manipulative practices of Tyson and the other meat packers, US food producers are being driven out of business, and this threatens the safety and security of the consumer`s food supply," Bill says.
He says since Tyson began dominating the poultry market, poultry has become the number one source of food-borne illnesses. And he worries that beef is next.
Schumacher says the no trespassing sign on his home isn`t just on his door... he says it`s also figuratively on the door of any producer who would try to stand up to Tyson.