By Lucas High
GREELEY — Several groups that advocated on behalf the interests of farmers, ranchers and their customers have spoken out in opposition to a recent decision by the Trump administration to buy 1.8 million pounds of pork from Greeley-based JBS USA for $5 million as part of a $12 billion bailout program for farmers hurt by the impact of tariffs and trade policy. Critics of JBS’ inclusion in the program point to the fact the company, owned by a foreign entity, is one of the largest meat processors in the world. The bailout money, they say, should go to smaller family-farm operations in the United States. JBS USA employs about 73,000 workers and is owned by JBS SA, based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “The irony that this money that is supposed to be supporting American producers is actually going to the behemoth Brazilian meat-packing firm JBS is not lost on the American family farmer,” National Farmers Union president Roger Johnson said in a prepared statement. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is overseeing the meat-purchasing program, “should not be sending money — directly or indirectly — to Brazil, the country that has benefitted the most from the President’s trade wars,” he continued. “In fact, because of our strained relations with China, Brazilian farmers have received a $2 price premium on their soybeans compared to American farmers.” Rather than directing payments to JBS-owned firms, money should instead be directed to the American farm families struggling with depressed prices and lost markets because of the administration’s reckless trade strategy.” Representatives with the JBS and USDA, which has seen operations affected by the partial federal government shutdown, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The Organization for Competitive Markets, a Nebraska-based nonprofit organization that advocates for evening the playing field between large agribusiness and farmers, has taken a similar position as the National Farmers Union. “It is a sad day when our own government will open its doors for global meatpacking corporations while keeping them closed during this government shutdown to America’s family farmers,” an OCM statement said. “… While elected officials debate border security, JBS’ abusive takeover of the U.S. beef market and the resulting threat to our food supply should be at the forefront of the conversation. Instead, our government is handing JBS the taxpayer money meant for U.S. farmers.” As of Friday morning, more than 1,000 people have supported an OCM online petition calling for lawmakers to block bailout payments to JBS.
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