Photo credit Karina Jones
Q: What are the biggest issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
For too long now we’ve been represented by lobbying powers in Washington D.C. that are far removed from what cattle producers deal with on a day –to-day basis. To counteract this, we have to become our own lobbyists and call out the corruption. Cattle producers need to be bold and go for those big asks that will solve our industry issues.
Q: Recently, there was a hearing in Grand Island, NE to discuss the possibility of a state meat inspection program in Nebraska. Can you elaborate on this?
During the pandemic, Nebraska had empty beef cases, something that shouldn’t happen in a state that is labeled “The Beef State.”
The hearing in Grand Island went well with good support from the senators, however there was opposition from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. At the hearing, the department made the statement that there are 100 USDA inspected processors in Nebraska, but they left out some fine details. A large majority of those processors are poultry only processors and the concentration of USDA meat inspected processors is east of Grand Island; there are only five USDA inspected processors west of Grand Island.
Q: What are your thoughts on USDA’s push to implement RFID tags across the industry by 2023?
Being involved in the sheep and goat industries, I have experience with the Scrapies tag program, and that program is not about traceability. With that situation, small producers don’t buy the tags and that causes sale barns to turn into tagging centers. In my opinion, this is why we don’t have as many sheep and goat sales as we used to; it’s difficult for sale barns to handle the responsibility of tagging without adequate labor and resources. If RFID tags are implemented in the cattle industry, we’ll most likely see the same result.
Q: Why is a beef checkoff referendum important to the cattle industry?
A beef checkoff referendum should be the right of every producer that pays into the program. It’s been 35 years since American cattle producers have been given the opportunity to vote on a beef checkoff referendum. At the bare minimum, this should be voted on every four to five years.
If there had been more transparency over the last two decades regarding how checkoff dollars are used, those in the cattle industry most likely would’ve been able to get along better.
Q: How do you think the Biden administration will impact the cattle industry?
Those of us in production agriculture are very worried about Biden’s agenda concerning fossil fuels. We can’t afford to have increased costs in fuel with the margin being thin to nonexistent as it is.
Another concern is the administration’s agenda regarding sustainability. This is a property rights issue; will those of us in agriculture be able to manage our own operations without any government control?
Q: Any closing statements?
The cattle industry needs to go for those big asks and swing for the fences if we’re going to save our independence. Every producer needs to start speaking up and get involved with the many issues facing our industry.