Officials of the Gallente Federal Administration today insisted that a brewing dispute, between the massive FedMart corporation and a number of Sang Do overlords, in the Lirsautton home-system of the Jin-Mei nation, is entirely a matter for autonomous local authorities. FedMart, the largest retailer in the Federation, has allegedly precipitated social unrest throughout the agricultural heartlands of the Jin-Mei by approaching Jing-Ko caste farmers directly, in order to negotiate for their produce. This conflicts with the traditional produce brokerage done by district farm commissioners, themselves usually of the Saan Go administrative caste, on behalf of local land-owners.
In large parts of the Jin-Mei domains, the Sang Do caste overlords own vast estates that they lease to tenant farmers. Most of these farmers are actually moderately well-to-do members of the Jing-Ko caste, with their farms operating as independent businesses. Traditional practice, rooted in centuries of stable caste stratification and an economic pyramid with the Sang Do very definitely at the apex, has put the overlords in control of all forms of transactions, though largely through the agency of the legions of administrators and officials that make up the Saan Go caste. The FedMart decision to directly approach farmers to negotiate a price for their produce threatens that economic order and cuts out the two higher castes from the process.
While it is entirely legal under Jin-Mei local law for farmers to sell to whomever they please, on whatever terms they can settle, it is very much contrary to the established social order and economic customs. While tenancy agreements very rarely contain exclusivity clauses, largely because they did not need to given the power of the caste system, the Sang Do overlords have begun to threaten sanctions, including eviction, against tenants who take up offers made by FedMart. In turn, FedMart has protested to the Federal Administration regarding those overlords and officials who have been seen to make such threats.
Commenting on behalf of the Lirsautton Agricultural Commission, Overdistrict Commissioner Qui Fan said, "This is an internal matter relevant to the local economy and social order of the Jin-Mei home worlds. Our guarantees of autonomy within the Federation place this entirely within the jurisdiction of the Commission, which acts for the Jin-Mei government and people. We do not appreciate the distorting interference of a megacorporation like FedMart and will act to protect our society."
In response, FedMart has released a statement contending that, "Basic Federal law guarantees commercial freedom and unobstructed trade to all citizens and corporations of the Federation. We hold that the Federal Administration must act to halt any actions that could undermine these essential freedoms." For its part, the Federal Administration is maintaining that Jin-Mei autonomy covers this case and that it cannot act without a direct Presidential instruction, Supreme Court ruling or bill in the Federal Senate.