Photo credit Gill Red Angus, https://www.facebook.com/redangusbulls
Q: What do you think are the biggest issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
The cattle industry needs to come together if we want to solve our issues. We currently have different groups pushing different agendas and working against each other; this has basically turned into a bickering match.
Congressmen need to decide if feeding the country is more important than lining their pockets. It seems as if the packers have so much lobbying power that nothing is getting resolved.
Q: What solutions could be implemented to solve this issue?
There are cattle industry groups that say they represent cattle producers, but that sure doesn’t seem to be true considering nothing ever changes for the better. Too much money is being passed through lobbyists’ hands.
If the cattle industry could get some bills passed to restrict packers from having complete control, we might be able to get somewhere.
Q: What solution do you believe would be best to create robust price discovery in the fat cattle market?
Senator Grassley’s 50/14 legislation would be beneficial for the live cattle market. This legislation would allow the fed cattle market to follow boxed beef prices, which would provide a more realistic price for fat cattle, and that would then trickle down to the rancher.
Q: The USDA has proposed implementing RFID tags for traceability across the cattle industry by 2023. What are your thoughts on this?
In theory, mandatory RFID tags sound good, but we all know that cattle producers will end up footing the bill for these tags. Producers are already struggling financially, and if these tags are implemented, it will just be one more cost for the rancher.
Q: Do you think MCOOL has a place in the cattle industry?
MCOOL is needed in the industry; at the very least, imported cattle and beef need to be labeled as imported with their country of origin. Both imported cattle and beef aren’t required to follow the same rules and regulations as U.S. beef, but there is no differentiation between the two. Additionally, both are priced the same at the retail level, which is unfair to domestic cattle producers.
Q: What are your thoughts on the beef checkoff referendum?
Cattle producers pay for the beef checkoff when they sell their cattle, so it is their right to correct the checkoff if they feel the need to do so. The packers don’t pay into the program, but ironically they stand the most to gain. The packers should be paying into the checkoff along with cattle producers.
Q: Any closing statements?
Things look awfully negative right now, but if the industry can get a few things corrected, cattle producers will again see some great profits. If we can achieve fair prices, we’ll be able to keep young people in the industry. We need to be sure we’re educating the general public about how cattle are raised and how agriculture actually benefits the environment.