Photo credit Senator Steve Daines, https://www.facebook.com/SteveDainesMT
Q: What are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
2020 was a tough year for ranchers across the state of Montana. Concerns in the cattle industry range from supply chain issues because of the pandemic, worries about market manipulation due to the packers, unfair trade barriers, and not enough transparency in our markets.
Instead of having adequate transparency and the market being driven by true supply and demand, the market actually feels more speculative at times.
Q: How do we achieve robust price discovery in our fed cattle markets?
The cattle industry must increase transparency in the cattle market; somehow we have to ensure a robust, transparent cash market. I support the 50/14 legislation that would require packers to purchase 50 percent of their weekly beef slaughter volume on the spot market.
As an industry, we need to be looking for ways to increase competition and reduce the market manipulative forces that have caused dramatic price disparities in our beef cutout values and the prices cattle producers receive for their cattle.
Q: What are your thoughts on cattle and beef imports?
The U.S. has some of the highest food safety standards in the world, it is critical that any and all cattle and beef imports meet those before entering our market.
We must work with USDA to ensure the agency continues to go to work keeping our food supply safe. The USDA also needs to be willing to block imports from countries that do not meet our safety standards.
It’s discouraging when some countries do not allow U.S. beef imports, but at the same time we have a big open back door here in the U.S. allowing beef imports into our country that don’t meet our safety standards.
Q: Do you think MCOOL has a place in the cattle industry?
Yes, MCOOL needs to be reinstated in the industry. It would ultimately be an advantage with the quality and traceability we already have in place with U.S. beef. MCOOL would ensure that only beef produced and slaughtered in America would receive the product of U.S. label. With that being said, we have to be sure that we don’t cause any retaliation from Canada or other countries.
Q: Do you think the cattle industry is in danger of becoming vertically integrated?
Yes, the consolidation within the industry is a real challenge. This consolidation is why we need a solid, thorough investigation into the packers.
Q: How do you think President Joe Biden’s Administration will impact the cattle industry and agriculture overall?
President Biden is off to a terrible start. It doesn’t seem like he has control of policy at the moment, instead he has delegated that to radical, left of center thinkers. The Green New Deal is a legitimate concern; the new administration has already killed the Keystone XL Pipeline, which directly affects ranchers across Montana. The action this new administration has taken against the energy industry is going to seriously impact agriculture. It’s not just about tax revenues, it’s also about ensuring we have low cost inputs.