On Dec. 2, Federal Trade Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya visited the Buche Foods store in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, to see how a lack of antitrust enforcement is harming independent grocers and their consumers. Bedoya met with RF Buche, fourth-generation grocer and president of GF Buche Co., and his team.
Also in attendance was District 27 Rep. Peri Pourier, other 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. “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 when he returns to Washington, he would tell lawmakers 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. We are here to learn from the Oglala People and we certainly plan to come back and keep the dialogue open.”
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.
At the same event, 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.
Bedoya took an interest in Buche after he testified to the House and Rules Committee earlier in 2022 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.
Alvaro Bedoya is one of the five U.S. Federal Trade Commissioners nationwide. RF Buche is a fourth-generation grocer with 22 locations in rural South Dakota.
For more information, visit buchefoods.com.