Q: What do you feel are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
Packer concentration, the inability of domestic cattle producers to differentiate their product from foreign products, the beef checkoff program, and the recent CFAP (Coronavirus Food Assistance Payments) payments are all issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets.
Q: What are some solutions that could be implemented to solve the issue of packer concentration?
Packer concentration has become so extreme that the only way to deal with this situation would be to break the packers up.
One way or another, we have to get some leverage back to the producer through MCOOL, the passage of the 50/14 legislation, and/or the beef checkoff referendum.
Q: What are your thoughts on USDA’s push to implement RFID tags across the industry?
The brucellosis clips that producers have been using for years are still working fine. It looks as if RFID ear tags are going to be forced down our throat by the USDA. The imports coming into the U.S. don’t have an RFID system, and being able to trace foreign product is just as important as being able to trace domestic product. It would make sense for MCOOL and RFID tags to be implemented together to make the most of traceability.
Q: What are your thoughts on imports of cattle and beef?
American cattle producers aren’t afraid to compete, but their needs to be a fair playing field for trade. American cattle producers need a way to distinguish their product from foreign product.
Q: What are your thoughts on the DOJ investigation into the four big beef processors?
This investigation is going to take time. However, some of the statistics against the packers have been rather obvious, especially after the Tyson plant fire last year. Since Covid-19 has hit, the issues within our industry have taken a back seat to everything else going on in our country. Hopefully after the election, the Department of Justice can get back to focusing on the corruption that is occurring within the cattle industry.
Q: What do you see happening to the independent cattle producer if substantial changes aren’t made to achieve fair cattle markets?
The cattle industry is dangerously close to vertical integration. We need to get some leverage back to the producer. Producers are going out of business, many feeders are choosing to just background cattle instead of finishing them out, and producers are realizing that the packers plan to some day dictate the details as to how they will raise their cattle.
Q: In one statement, what does the cattle industry need most today?
The cattle industry must get some leverage back to the producers. The industry has let the packers get so big and powerful; somehow we have to get power back to the producer.
Q: Any closing statements?
Cattle producers have to stay optimistic and continue to fight for the industry.