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OCM Shares Ideas on Competitiveness

State legislators review trade, other market issues.

The Organization for Competitive Markets has tilted slightly in its emphasis, board member Dan Hodges of Julian noted in an interview at OCM's recent annual meeting in Omaha.

Hodges said the organization no longer tries to gather up a large grassroots membership to effect change. Instead, OCM has become more of a think tank, whose members are working for the long-term good of all agricultural interests on trade and business.

"We're trying to get manufacturers and agricultural interests working together for the long-term good. They'll be more effective," he said.

To that end, Hodges praised the annual meeting's panel of state legislators from the Midwest states that discussed legislation and issues that OCM members in other states may want to emulate or work to avoid.

State Sen. Tom White of Lincoln took note of recent judicial decisions that have failed to take a strong stand for fairness in trade and markets. In cases where producers have been pitted against the nation's largest meat packers, packers have gotten a slap on the wrist at best, even when they have been engaged in unfair practices, White said. If this continues, the Packers and Stockyards Act will be meaningless, he added.

State Sen. Annette Dubas of Fullerton mourned the loss of Initiative 300, which she said sheltered Nebraska family farms and ranches from potential domination by out-of-state corporations and investors for more than 20 years. Before the next legislative session, she hopes to be a part of a series of listening sessions around the state, looking at how the spirit of I-300 could be incorporated into new legislation that would satisfy the judicial system.

Also talking about competitiveness issues, State Sen. Carol Hudkins told about pro-competitiveness legislation that limits packer-owned cattle in Nebraska.

Missouri State Sen. Wes Shoemeyer said American farmers and their ethanol enterprises are being blamed for inflating cost of consumer goods. Instead, they should be praised for keeping fuel costs from soaring higher.

"Patriotism is more than putting a gold ribbon on your car bumper," said Shoemeyer. "Farmers are turning corn into ethanol. If oil wasn't such a problem, our boys wouldn't be over there."

Iowa State Sen. Jack Kibbie said Iowans recently passed legislation that will enable communities to form community groups to develop wind generation units. Without it the community efforts, wind power tends to be dominated by corporate entities, he said.

OCM is a national public policy research organization, based in Lincoln, that works toward returning the U.S. food and agriculture sector "to true supply-demand-based competition."

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