By Bill Bishop
This Friday, thousands of ranchers, farmers and feed lot owners will be in Fort Collins for “the most important day in the history of the U.S. cattle industry and in rural America.” They are defending a way of life against monopolies like WalMart and Monsanto.
Buses will shove off this Thursday from Kansas, the Dakotas and Nebraska, from Gillette, Wyoming, and Billings, Montana. Vans will depart from small towns in Idaho and Mississippi.
They will all be hauling people to Fort Collins, Colorado, for what one livestock group calls the “most important day in the history of the U.S. cattle industry and in rural America!”
The subject of the meeting on the campus of Colorado State University is fairly arcane. Attorney General Erick Holder and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will take testimony on antitrust violations in the livestock industry and on new rules proposed under the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.
To thousands of people, however, this hearing isn’t about rules and regulations or interpretations of century-old laws. They are driving hundreds of miles to Fort Collins to defend a way of life.
“Everybody in rural America needs to understand that this can be a beginning of a new direction,” Bill Bullard of R-CALF, the Montana-based cattle raisers group said earlier this month. “This is our opportunity and everyone who has a stake in rural America needs to be in Fort Collins on that day.”
Bullard has been hopscotching the country trying to convince 25,000 people to come to Fort Collins. That may be a stretch. Every distance in the West is far. It’s August, after all, and Friday is opening night for high school football in many towns.
But Bullard is right. This is a big week. What I’d like to do is sketch out a few ways this cattle drive to Fort Collins is unique, important and misunderstood.
Read full post at Daily Yonder