Q: What are your thoughts on the current Department of Justice investigation into meatpacker pricing and the need for anti-trust laws to be enforced within the cattle industry?
Anti-trust enforcement is long overdue in the food processing business, not just meat. The beef industry is the most concentrated of all food processing. There is no other solution to this issue other than breaking up the packing companies and having more, smaller companies
Q: Do you think that breaking up the packers is the only way to restore competition in our cattle markets?
Yes, and its also the only safe way to process enough meat as a food product for 320 million people.
Anti-trust laws are designed primarily to protect the market, but a functioning market protects the consuming public and we’ve now seen firsthand what happens to supply when the markets don’t work because they’re too concentrated.
Q: Is lobbying done by cattle organizations beneficial?
No, the cattle industry has the strongest anti-trust law of all, the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921. The industry has allowed this law to fall into disuse. The problem with most cattle organizations is that they aren’t willing to take issues to court where enforcement actually happens. There is no enforcement when organizations send lobbyists hobnobbing around Capitol Hill.
Q: Is the cattle industry in danger of becoming vertically integrated?
Yes, and it’s also in danger of losing its market share. The public will only take interruptions in the market due to concentration for so long. The consumer will only continue to consume a product as long as there isn’t a safer one around. Technologically, someone very intelligent will eventually figure out how to produce an equally or more flavorful steak without an embryo.
Q: Are fake meat products a real concern to the cattle industry? If so, how do we out market them?
Yes, and the cattle industry needs to be smarter marketing against such products. The industry needs to stop worrying so much about genetics and building a better cow, and instead focus on building better beef. Beef needs to be marketed with product identification that runs back to its origin, which in turn makes the consumer proud of the their purchase.
Q: What are your thoughts on the beef checkoff?
What other industry imposes a tax on some other industry in order to pay for its advertising? Checkoff dollars are in no way benefitting cattle producers. The checkoff dollars should be used for product research, market research and anti-trust studies and investigations to protect the market.
Q: Any final comments?
Cattle producers today have to live a completely different life than the life their ancestors lived doing the same thing. Producers today need to be actively involved in the political discourse of this country. Decisions must be measured by what they will look and feel like in 20 years. The market we’re complaining about today is the market of 2005, and it will be the market of 2035 if substantial changes aren’t made.