The recently released findings of the investigation into possible cattle market manipulation has left a lot of people less than satisfied. I would contend this was a “no win” situation from the start. We live in an investigation culture.
Congress loves to investigate and compared to the time and money spent on them it seems we get little in return. A big reason for that is our divided political climate. For any given investigation sides are drawn and conclusions formed before the investigation even takes place. Often it seems those conducting investigations are trying to prove a pre-determined outcome rather than letting the findings determine the outcome. As we’ve seen with the numerous Congressional investigations the only people who feel they accomplish anything are the politicians who are trying to convince voters they are doing their jobs and the ones who agree with the findings. Those who don’t agree dismiss the investigation as rigged. It’s almost impossible to get a so called “independent or neutral” investigation or at least one that will be accepted as one. So many people are locked into their positions they leave no room for the possibility of an opposing outcome.
Same goes for the cattle market investigation. Those who are convinced the packers manipulate markets and prices aren’t going to accept any other conclusion. Neither are those who feel the packers are innocent of manipulation. That meant this investigation, which is on going, wasn’t going to end the controversy or debate. The only sure reaction and it applies to both sides, is “see I told you so”. I’m not saying investigations aren’t important or needed but just don’t count on them to end a controversy. It’s like a lot of the issues we see with new technology in food production. Even if you have science on your side, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll win in the court of public opinion. USDA is making some recommendations for improvements in the marketing system but even if they are helpful (and hopefully they will be) some will look at them as merely window dressing. So when all is said and done the outcome will be pretty much the same. Those not happy with the price they are getting will continue to believe the system is rigged against them. Those who side with the packers (or appear to) will be accused of selling out. No system is perfect. How close to perfect it comes is always going to be in the eye of the beholder and no investigation will ever change that.