American Family Farmers Honor Marty Irby with The John Helmuth Award

Alabama Native, One of The Hill’s Top Lobbyists, Recognized for Fighting Against China’s Takeover of American Food Production

BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI, May 14, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Members and producers from the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM), met in the Southeastern U.S. this month, for the group’s annual conference where they presented the John Helmuth Award. Attendees joined from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Kansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

The group was also joined by a raft of speakers that included Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson, Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the U.S. Dept. of Justice, Michael Kades, and Andy Green, Senior Advisor to the Secretary at the U.S. Dept of Agriculture.

The John Helmuth Award – OCM’s highest honor named in remembrance of OCM’s late co-founder John Helmuth, and presented on select occasions – was awarded to OCM board director and secretary, Marty Irby, president and CEO of Capitol South, LLC, and Competitive Markets Action, in Washington, D.C. Helmuth was instrumental in forming OCM and laying the intellectual groundwork for analyzing meatpacker market power.

“I applaud the work dedicated to the organization by Marty Irby and congratulate him on receiving the Helmuth Award this year – OCM’s highest honor,” said Taylor Haynes, president at OCM, and founder of the Wyoming Independent Cattle Producers Organization. “Our voice and work on Capitol Hill are stronger than they’ve ever been and the so-called National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is right in the middle of our crosshairs. We will continue to work alongside Irby and fight to defeat China’s attempt to takeover American food production with the EATS Act and to enact the much-needed OFF Act that would reform USDA’s compromised Commodity Checkoff Programs.”

“I am deeply humbled to receive the John Helmuth Award, have never been more surprised to have such a distinguished honor bestowed upon me, and truly believe that God is with us,” said Marty Irby, secretary at OCM and president at Competitive Markets Action who is leading the group’s lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. “China’s front men and whipping boys continue to fuel my desire to work harder and make dramatic change that will improve the lives of the American family farmers that keep this country fed. Our country is on the verge of losing any remaining control we have over American food production because of the scandal-ridden USDA’s Commodity Checkoff Programs, and groups like the so-called National Cattlemen’s Beef Association who lobbied for the repeal of Country-of-Origin Labeling.”

The inscription on the Helmuth Award presented to Irby read in part:

“For being a hard charging advocate for what is right.

“His work was recognized by the late Queen Elizabeth II. However, it was also recognized by those who would abuse animals and livestock producers. They attacked him, attempted to shut him up by having him fired only to awaken a sleeping giant. He is known to be among the very best in his profession and has become the ‘Energizer Bunny’ for OCM.

“As he is so unique, his efforts in promoting independent family agriculture are legendary and consistent with the mission of this organization.”

Irby was recognized by the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2020 for his work to end doping in American horse racing and abuse in the world of Tennessee Walking Horses. He is a native Alabamian from Mobile who graduated from UMS-Wright Preparatory School and the University of South Alabama, and was named one of The Hill’s Top Lobbyists in 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2023.

Since 2023, Irby has been continuously attacked for his previous work on animal protection issues by Berman Co., whose managing partner Jack Hubbard, interestingly enough, served as the Chief Operating Officer at American Humane prior to joining Berman. Berman has long been known as “Dr. Evil” across the political sphere. What’s even more interesting is that Hubbard, during his time at American Humane, actually joined Irby in the Oval Office with President Donald J. Trump in 2019, for the signing of the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act that Irby lobbied for – the first federal anti-cruelty statute in American history. Hubbard’s cohorts at Berman Co. also led the charge against President Trump with their “Never Trump” movement that began in 2016 and still continues against the President in 2024.  

“I am proud to call Marty Irby my friend, and will continue to fight in solidarity for what is right for American family farmers,” said Jonathan Buttram, OCM treasurer and president of the Alabama Contract Poultry Growers Association. “We’re in the best position we’ve ever been to make change in our food production system and are committed to achieving checkoff reform with the enactment of the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act.”

Irby has worked for most of the past decade to see the enactment of the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, H.R. 1249/S. 557, led by Reps. Nancy Mace, R-SC, and Rep. Dina Titus, D-NV, and Sens. Mike Lee, R-UT, Rand Paul, R-KY, Cory Booker, D-NJ, and Elizabeth Warren, D-MA. The measure would reform the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s scandal-ridden checkoff programs that have been plagued by unethical and illegal activities for decades. OFF is backed by more than 200,000 farmers and ranchers across the country and groups like the American Grassfed Association, Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias, National Taxpayers Union, and the Heritage Foundation, as well as Reps. Thomas Massie, R-KY, Alex Mooney, R-WV, Victoria Spartz, R-IN, and Mike Lawler, R-NY.  

Over the past year since the Berman attacks began, Irby has led the Republican lobbying team against the Ending Agriculture Trade Suppression (EATS) Act, H.R. 4417/ S. 2019, led by Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-IA, and Sen. Roger Marshall, R-KS, that is designed to nullify state ballot measures across the country enacted by a direct vote of the people. Industrial agribusiness interests failed to secure the enactment of similar legislation led by former Rep. Steve King, R-IA, in the 2018 Farm Bill thanks to the work of OCM leaders and former House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-TX, who is currently working with the Competitive Markets Groups on the issue in 2024. 

Irby’s lobbying efforts against EATS has helped secure two Republican-led letters to House Agriculture Committee Chairman, Glenn “G.T.” Thompson, R-PA, in opposition to the inclusion of EATS in the 2024 Farm Bill set to be marked up next week. The letters were led by Reps. Andrew Garbarino, R-NY, and Anna Paulina Luna, R-FL, and cosigned by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good, R-Va., as well as Reps. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., Nancy Mace, R-S.C., Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., and Tim Burchett, R-Tenn. Andrew Garbarino, R-NY, David Valadao, R-CA, Mike Waltz, R-FL, and Nancy Mace, R-SC, was signed by Reps. Alex Mooney, R-WV, Carol Miller, R-WV, Early “Buddy” Carter, R-GA, Lance Gooden, R-TX, Mike Lawler, R-NY, Brian Fitzpatrick, R-PA, Young Kim, R-CA, Mike Garcia, R-CA, Tom Kean, R-NJ, Jeff Van Drew, R-NJ, and Chris Smith, R-NJ, and Vern Buchanan, R-FL. 

The Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit based in Lincoln, Nebraska. The foundation of the Organization for Competitive Markets is to fight for competitive markets in agriculture for farmers, ranchers and rural communities. True competition reduces the need for economic regulation. Our mission, and our duty, is to define and advocate the proper role of government in the agricultural economy as a regulator and enforcer of rules necessary for markets that are fair, honest, accessible and competitive for all citizens.


OCM President Taylor Haynes and Marty Irby OCM Crew at 2024 Conference

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