Last night's town hall meeting in Fort Collins, Colorado, on competition and concentration in the livestock industry, was a rousing affair with well over 500 family farmers, ranchers, food service workers, non-profit staffers, rural and urban food activists, and consumers in attendance. People came from all over the country and at least 20 states were represented. Held in the Fort Collins Marriott, the meeting was so crowded that a divider wall had to be removed to make room for more people as they continued to file in even after the event got started. Six panel speakers spoke for five minutes each, followed by dozens of two-minute public comments by those of us in the audience.
The diverse crowd was united in calling for the USDA's quick adoption and implementation of a livestock rule proposed by the USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) as a necessary first step in restoring genuine competition in the livestock industry. The evening's event, organized by Farm Aid allies Food & Water Watch, R-CALF USA, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), leads in to today's USDA and Department of Justice public hearing on antitrust issues in the livestock industry, to be held on the campus of Colorado State University. Thousands are expected for the hearing, the fourth in this year's series of five historic public workshops on antitrust and concentration issues in American agriculture.
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