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Federal Trade commissioner Bedoya visits Buche Foods in Pine Ridge

R.F. Buche continues to lobby for antitrust enforcement in grocery pricing

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Alvaro Bedoya, second from the left, a commissioner with the Federal Trade Commission, visited Buche Foods in Pine Ridge Dec. 2.
Submitted Photo
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PINE RIDGE, S.D. — Federal Trade Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya visited the Buche Foods store in Pine Ridge Dec. 2 to see first-hand how a lack of antitrust enforcement is harming independent grocers and their consumers.

Bedoya met with R.F. Buche, fourth generation grocer and president of G.F. Buche Co. and his team. Also in attendance was District 27 Representative Peri Pourier, South Dakota Retailers along with other Oglala Sioux Tribal council representatives, OST Chairman Frank Star Comes Out and members of his staff along with consumers in the area.

“I just don’t believe that when it comes to food, my customers should have to go without, or anybody else in rural America,” Buche said in a press release. “I hope to have a more level playing field when it comes to cost but probably more important to me is I want access to the same foods that everyone else can get for my customers.”

Bedoya said the issue at hand effects health and nutrition at the community level, and the Pine Ridge visit was a chance to see how it effects everyday people.

“When we go back to Washington and tell them that this isn’t a question of ones and zeros. It’s the question about the strength of the community, the nutrition of the community, which is the kind of thing that you can’t do sitting behind a desk in D.C. or even in zoom meetings,” Bedoya said. “We are here to learn from the Oglala People and we certainly plan to come back and keep the dialogue open.”

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R.F. Buche, president of the G.F. Buche Co., has lobbied for antitrust enforcement in grocery pricing in recent years.
Submitted Photo

In September, Buche was a panelist for the Open Markets conference in Minneapolis, where he called for a level playing field for independent grocers so that food insecure people can have access to nutritious foods for their families. He pointed his finger at big box stores not only having a cost advantage but having an unfair advantage when it comes to having the same access to foods.

“We need to do something about the fair trade laws on the books. These dollar formats are ripping apart rural America, specifically small-town South Dakota. And when the grocers go away, there is no more fresh meat or fresh produce, and they miss out,” Buche told the Mitchell Republic in an interview in September.

At the same Minneapolis event, keynote speaker Bedoya called for enforcement of the Robinson Patman Act which dates back to 1936. This Act is an antitrust law that prevents large franchises and chains from engaging in price discrimination against small business.

About 40% of the families living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation experience food insecurity according to the American Journal of Public Health.

Bedoya took an interest in Buche after he previously testified to the House and Rules Committee regarding access to certain products during the pandemic when Big Box stores had those same items. This last fall Buche also participated in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health in Washington D.C. regarding the availability of healthy, fresh produce and meat products in food desserts.

Bedoya is one of the five US Federal Trade commissioners nationwide. Buche is a fourth generation grocer with 22 locations in rural South Dakota.

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