Photo Credit: Shelly Ziesch
Q: What do you feel are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
Lack of competition in the processing sector is the biggest issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets. Four packers controlling 80 percent of cattle slaughter in the U.S. is a hindrance to the industry.
Q: What solutions could be implemented to solve this issue?
More local and regionalized processing would help with the lack or processing capacity. The 50/14 legislation to increase negotiated cash trade would also help.
Q: What are your thoughts on USDA’s push to implement RFID tags across the industry?
RFID tags make sense for disease tracking. With that being said, confidentiality of the information collected from RFID tags needs to be considered. As cattle producers, it is our right to know how many cattle we have, what age they are, etc. We need to be sure that information doesn’t end up in the wrong hands and work against us in the long run.
Q: What are your thoughts on MCOOL?
When MCOOL was in place, we saw record cattle prices, but when it was repealed, we basically saw the markets free-fall. Since then, we’ve had the voluntary COOL label that has basically made a mockery of the U.S. label because beef can be imported and re-labeled as product of the U.S. This is not only harmful to producers, but it also extremely unfair to consumers who are relying on that label to be what it says it is.
Q: What are your thoughts on the beef checkoff program?
The beef checkoff program served its purpose well when it first began, however it has gotten a little off track since then. The program needs more transparency as to where and how checkoff dollars are spent.
Q: Do you think fake meat products are a threat to the beef industry?
Yes, fake meat products are a threat to the beef industry in the sense of transparency in labeling. Labeling on these products needs to be clear that they aren’t meat/beef.
Fake meat companies also promote their products as being more clean and better for the environment than traditional meat. These companies need to be held accountable for this false advertising.
Q: What do you see happening to the independent cattle producer if substantial changes aren’t made to achieve fair cattle markets?
Cattle producers will eventually disappear. Young folks aren’t coming back to family operations because they see the struggles that come along with cattle production; very little profit for a lot of work.
Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most right now?
The beef industry needs competition within the processing sector, we need fair markets, and we need to be able to market our cattle.