AUDIO: Jeff Brown, Manager of Riverton Livestock Auction, discusses the implications of packers having too much information at their disposal

by | Jul 27, 2020 | 0 comments


Q: What do you think are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets? 

Competition is lacking in the fed cattle sector of the industry. The packers have too much information at their disposal. They know what’s out there for cattle, which leaves feeders at a disadvantage and very little room to negotiate. 


Q: What solutions would fix these issues? 

Information regarding fed cattle needs to be protected. If packers didn’t know what was out there for cattle in the weeks to come, they would be more aggressive in the present and we would see competition increase.  


Q: What are your thoughts on the DOJ investigation into our four big beef processors?  

It’s disappointing that we have yet to see any results and there is a good chance this investigation will be a flop. It will be difficult for the DOJ to find conclusive evidence against the packers. The packers have made significant amounts of money and have easily out traded us, both of which aren’t illegal. They have the ability and are smart enough to collude without talking.  

The packers are needed to make this industry function, but as producers, we have to be for us. An example of this is the beef checkoff. Why isn’t that program working to help cattle producers? Cattle producers pay into the program, but at the end of the day, the beef checkoff isn’t representing cattle producers, instead that money is working against them.  


Q: Do you think alternative meat products are a threat to the beef industry? 

From a labor standpoint, alternative meat products are concerning. Packers have been discussing automation for some time and the production on alternative meats would fit well into their automation plans.  


Q: What are your thoughts on MCOOL?  

Whether or not MCOOL would be beneficial to our industry or not isn’t certain, but nonetheless, why is it such a big ask? From a cattle producer’s standpoint, MCOOL isn’t asking for too much, just a basic label to identify the quality beef we raise here in the U.S.  


Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most today? 

The cattle industry needs competition. We’ve gotten along and have seen plenty of arrangements within the cattle industry over the past 25 years. This has led to cattle producers being backed into a corner with no more room to give.  


Q: Do you have any closing statements? 

We have to protect rural America. As an industry, we need to make sure that those who live in urban areas know what we do to produce food.  


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How did we get here?

From the Holcomb Tyson fire to COVID-19;
Click to see a timeline of events that have brought to light the profit and pricing disparity in cattle markets.


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