Photo courtesy of “The Land of Milk and Uncle Honey” https://www.farmandfoodfile.com/
Q: What are some of the biggest issues facing the cattle industry today?
The beef processors hold too much market power. Someone needs to intervene and address this issue, either the DOJ or Congress. We aren’t seeing any elected officials responding to their constituent’s complaints. On top of that, there aren’t any cattle organizations representing their members’ best interests. Instead of representation, we see complaining, sniping, and a lot of politics being played. To fix these issues we need to start changing the leadership of political offices and the cattle organizations that are supposed to be representing cattle producers
Q: Do you think the current DOJ investigation into the big four beef processors will yield results?
We’ve never seen any results from previous investigations. Nobody within the Department of Justice is serious about investigating our meat processors. A person would’ve thought after the breakdown we saw within our food supply chain in April and May, that our political leaders would be more aware of the issues with our meat processors. Instead, President Trump ordered those workers back to work and totally sidestepped the issue.
Q: What are your thoughts on MCOOL?
When MCOOL was in place it was benefitting the cattle industry. Nations all over the world have their beef labeled with country of origin, but we don’t do it here in the U.S. because the packers don’t want it.
Q: What are your thoughts on imports of beef and cattle?
America has been a promoter of free trade, low tariffs, and free movement of goods and services since the beginning. Agricultural producers need to realize free trade means a two-way street. Producers should never rely on exports, as there is too great of lag time between when the producer gets paid and the end buyer receives the product.
Imports need to be questioned since consumers have no way of knowing where their beef comes from. The best thing for both the beef and pork industry would be to have country of origin labeling.
Q: What are your thoughts on the petition to bring about a beef checkoff referendum?
The wording for the act hasn’t changed, so petitioners can collect all the signatures they want, but if the secretary of agriculture doesn’t want to go ahead with the referendum, it won’t occur.
Q: Do you think our industry has caused permanent damage to beef demand after consumers were gouged through the Covid-19 pandemic?
Consumer gouging at the meat counter has undoubtedly hurt beef demand. Furthermore, what’s going to make the price of beef come down? Cattlemen seem to be okay with packers continuing to see a profit like they always have, even though cattle producers continue to suffer losses.
We need to give the smaller and mid-sized processors a level playing field with the big processors. Local, smaller processing plants will be able to thrive given the chance to do so because they’ll be able to produce a higher quality product that the consumer is looking for.