Q: How do you deal with a lack of work force in your rural area?
The key to recruiting folks to work is being vocal and offering above average starting pay for the area. Sandhills Beef has an additional cooler that would double production if individuals were available for hire to make the expansion possible.
Q: What issues having you been having with becoming USDA certified?
A few things could be changed with our plan, and the USDA would give Sandhills Beef a grant of inspection, however it is more important to crusade against regulatory overreach.
The Federal Meat Inspection Act hasn’t had a major revision since the early 1960s.
An important story to note regarding inspection involves big companies such as Costco and Sam’s Club who move tremendous volumes of meat. These companies threatened to buy their way out of the government’s rules, so the government went ahead and exempted them from federal inspection to avoid any additional issues.
Q: There is now a hearing scheduled to address these issues of Sandhills Beef becoming USDA certified, correct?
The decision was made to forego the hearing and just go on written information from both Sandhills Beef and the USDA. A judge will make the decision based on this information. The great thing is that Sandhills Beef wins either way. Even if the processing company doesn’t win, it should come out clear what needs to be changed in order to receive a grant of inspection.
Q: What are your thoughts on the PRIME, DIRECT, and RAMP-UP Act?
Any more regulation is bad. Instead of more regulation, it would be beneficial for folks in the industry to stand up against government overreach that we are seeing with smaller processing facilities.
Cattle producers need to change their mindset and start selling directly to the consumer. Our industry is getting closer to vertical integration by the day, so it is vital to get our high quality product directly to the consumer.
Q: Do you have any closing statements?
The USDA needs to get on the side of America first. If people want additional packing plants, the department needs to help those facilities become a reality instead of standing in the way.
Ranchers will never be able to compete with the big packers who hold all the cards. However, if these smaller processing facilities can get going and work with producers, this will allow the production of dry-aged beef, which will cater to a niche market.