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2001/06/13

OCM Host Two-Day Conference To Consider Concentration Issues And Ways To Foster New Competition The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) will host a two-day Food and Agriculture Conference to discuss solutions to the problems of consolidation in food and agriculture. The Conference will be held at the Radisson Hotel Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 19 and 20, 2001. "This Conference brings together some of the best thinkers on how to approach the chokehold that big agribusiness and huge retailers have on agricultural and food sectors," said Fred Stokes, president of OCM. "The two-day meeting opens the line of discussion between farmers, consumers and others concerned with the consolidation in the agricultural and food retail markets." The program on July 19th will focus on The New Competition, such as direct marketing and farmer controlled companies. One way to reduce the power of Big Agribusiness is to create new competition to go around them. "The direct marketing and new generation cooperative movement is growing stronger each day," said Michael C. Stumo, general counsel of OCM nonprofit sector to present systemic strategies allowing farmers and ranchers to capture more of the consumer food dollar." The New Competition panelists include Neil Hamilton of Drake Law School (author of "The Legal Guide to Direct Farm Marketing"), Barbara Meister of American Fresh (using information technology to broker sales between farmers and restaurants), Kamyar Enshayan of the University of Northern Iowa (creating linkages between farmers and institutional food buyers) and Mike Callicrate of Ranch Foods Direct (designing an independent, value added farm to retail beef processing and sales company). The second day of the conference on July 20 will feature Competition and Trade Practices issues in the food and agriculture system. "We have again brought together some of the most thoughtful people on issues of industry structure and unfair trade practices in agriculture," said Keith Mudd, vice president of OCM. "We need to explore common ground with consumer interests, hold federal officials accountable and think seriously about what kind of agriculture we want in the future." The first panel will present the dangers that consolidation pose to both consumers and farmers. Representatives from he Consumer Federation of America, the National Consumers League, the National Grocers Association and the American Antitrust Institute will be on the panel. The second panel will feature Roger McEowen of Kansas State University and Luther Tweeten of Ohio State University who will present two very different views of how to think about the best way to structure our agricultural economy in the future. The third panel will include representatives from USDA on packer enforcement issues and market news. It will also include persons from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to talk about federal enforcement of antitrust and trade practices law. The conference will conclude with a banquet, featuring award-winning agricultural investigative reporter Alan Guebert as keynote speaker. To register, go to the "News and Events" section of OCM website www.competitivemarkets.com, or contact OCM by email at ocm@competitivemarkets.com or by telephone at (860) 379-6199. Hotel reservations may be made by calling the Radisson Hotel Opryland at (800) 333-3333. Mention that you are with OCM to get the special room rate. The Organization for Competitive Markets is a multidisciplinary, nonprofit group of farmers, ranchers, academics, attorneys, and policy makers dedicated to reclaiming the agriculture marketplace for independent farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

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