Photo Credit: Joseph L. Murphy, Iowa Soybean Association
Q: What are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
With only three or four big players in the finished cattle market, we have a lack of competition. Due to this, marketing options and opportunities are inhibited.
Another issue we are facing within our industry is consumers not being able to differentiate between domestic and foreign beef. Imported beef can be relabeled or mixed in with US beef. This product is then labeled with a USDA inspection sticker that often misleads the consumer to think the product is of US origin. On top of all that, foreign beef is usually raised in countries with lower food safety standards that what the US requires.
Q: What are some solutions that need to be put in place to fix these issues?
There isn’t a silver bullet answer to solve all the issues within the cattle industry. Some solutions that may solve these problems will bring along their own negatives, regardless, the path we’re going down today is a path of failure. An increased minimum negotiated cash trade on live cattle would be a step in the right direction to solve some issues.
Q: What are the implications some feeders are facing with cattle that need to be slaughtered, however the packers aren’t able to take them at this time?
As cattle get bigger, they become less efficient. The bottleneck of cattle continues to grow across the country along with above average carcass weights. These two factors put together will make for a sizeable amount of beef to eat through before things level out.
Q: In one sentence what does the cattle industry need most right now?
Awareness is at an all time high concerning what is going on within our industry. Now is the time for cattle producers to stand up and be heard, be vocal. Solutions and changes need to be made so producers can be profitable again.
Q: Any closing statements?
As producers, we need to work with our agriculture organizations to solve these issues in the cattle industry. The situation we’ve found ourselves in has opened the door for us to share with the masses the struggles we are facing within our industry.
We’ve been driven down this path of efficiency, but with that drive for efficiency, we have lost flexibility. Without this flexibility, we lose food security. Covid-19 has shown us that flexibility needs to be a mainstay all throughout agriculture.
There will be a definite trickle down from these cattle markets to our row crop farmers. The row crop farmers depend on livestock producers to feed some of their commodities. If cattle producers can’t afford to feed cattle, where do farmers go with those commodities that are typically used for feed? Farmers need to be aware of what is going on and how this will affect their livelihoods.