Photo credit United States Cattlemen’s Association, https://www.facebook.com/uscattlemens
Q: What are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
Our industry is lacking a true, free competitive market because of packer consolidation.
Q: What solutions could be implemented to solve this issue?
The U.S. government let packer consolidation occur through mergers and acquisitions. For so long, they’ve had the mentality that bigger is better and that has caused the packing sector to become incredibly unhealthy. The packing sector isn’t just a detriment to the cattle industry; it also puts our food supply chain at risk. The government needs to find ways to promote small packers and they need to do away with regulatory burdens that stand in the way of these small packers being successful. Finally, the government needs to look into the business practices of the big four packers.
Q: What are some ways to increase competition within our cattle markets?
Packer concentration needs to be addressed and our industry needs to have people bid on the true value of what cattle are worth to increase competition. The packers have done an excellent job in monopolizing the market; sweetheart deals and certain contracts with feedlots go a long way to control the market.
MCOOL would greatly increase competition by giving cattle producers a level playing field to compete with foreign product. It would also give consumers the ability to differentiate between domestic and foreign beef.
The 50/14 legislation would also have a hand in restoring our broken markets through increasing competition in the live cattle markets.
Q: What are your thoughts on beef and cattle imports?
The U.S. has the capability to produce enough beef for our nation and other nations, but importers and packers continue to import foreign beef to control the market and depress domestic prices.
Q: What are your thoughts on the government’s push to implement RFID tags across the industry by 2023?
Our industry needs to have a way to source our cattle back to the ranch, and RFID tags would do that. The tags would also increase consumer confidence. With that being said, the data collected through those RFID tags should be held in a state’s animal health veterinary database and producers should never be responsible for the cost of the tags.
Q: What are your thoughts on the petition circulating to bring about a beef checkoff referendum?
The beef checkoff has lost its responsiveness to the people that pay into it. The industry needs to work together to bring forward meaningful reform so the beef checkoff will work for everybody.
Q: Any closing statements?
It is incredibly sad to see farmers and ranchers not being able to make a good living comparable to what others can make not working near as hard, with little risk and much less capital all because of our unfair cattle markets.
We’re losing cattle producers all across America at an alarming rate and if that continues our country will end up relying on multi-national and foreign companies for our food source.