Photo courtesy: John Hansen
Q: What do you feel are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets and what solutions should be implemented to fix these issues?
Packer concentration is the leading issue within the cattle industry. The industry needs more price discovery. Cattle producers have become price takers due to this lack of competition.
Q: What are your thoughts on beef and cattle imports?
It doesn’t make sense to allow companies to import cheaper beef that doesn’t measure up to USDA guidelines when it comes to implants, vaccinations, and how livestock is raised here in the U.S. Essentially, we shouldn’t be importing beef that isn’t up to the same quality standards as what we produce here in the U.S.
Q: Do you think the cattle industry is in danger of becoming vertically integrated?
There is no doubt that the cattle industry is in danger of becoming vertically integrated. It seems as if the cattle industry is quickly moving towards vertical integration. If we aren’t careful, cattle producers will find themselves working for someone else.
Q: What do we do as an industry to avoid vertical integration?
Breaking up packer concentration and increasing packing capacity would help avoid vertical integration. However, if a few smaller regional plants were built, there’s a good chance the big beef processors would drop their prices and put those smaller plants out of business.
The best option to avoid vertical integration would be enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act and regulating the packers on ownership.
Q: What are your thoughts on the DOJ investigation into the four big beef processors?
The current DOJ investigation into the packers is a joke. There has been plenty of evidence against the packers going all the way back to the Holcomb fire. With the pandemic we’ve seen boxed beef prices skyrocket while live cattle prices have plummeted, signaling that something isn’t working right.
Q: What are your thoughts on NCBA’s recent policy to increase negotiated cash trade through voluntary actions by feeders and packers?
The NCBA does not support the independent cattleman anymore. Instead, they are representing the packers who sit on their board. There is no way the packers will voluntarily give up their sweetheart deals.
Q: What are your thoughts on MCOOL?
MCOOL would be beneficial for the cattle industry. So many of the other products we purchase include country of origin labeling. The implementation of MCOOL would at least give consumers the choice to either buy U.S. or foreign beef, which is the least we can do for consumers.
Q: We’ve recently seen the cattle markets bounce back; do you think we’re out of the woods when it comes to issues facing our industry?
The cattle markets still aren’t back to where they should be at this time. Cattle feeders have seen losses for years and it’s becoming more and more difficult to stay in business.