Photo courtesy https://www.sdcattlemen.org/
Q: What do you think are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
The biggest challenge we have in our industry right now is defining what’s fair. Each sector of the cattle industry has a different definition as to what fair really means.
Q: How do we go about achieving fairness in our cattle industry?
The industry needs to be open and transparent. We need to keep communicating how business is conducted between sectors, and make sure we are producing a safe product. Our industry also needs to be sure to continue to build beef demand.
Q: Do you think there is a chance our industry could price itself out of a product due to record high prices for beef in grocery stores?
Amongst all the protein sectors, beef is already the most expensive choice, even before we saw the price hikes that came along with Covid-19. We need to be careful to not turn consumers away because they aren’t able to afford our product.
Often times we forget about the “fake meat” products that threaten beef demand. Currently, these products haven’t captured a huge share of the market, but that doesn’t mean they someday will.
Q: What are your thoughts on the DOJ’s investigation into the packing industry?
Its good to see the DOJ get involved investigating the packers, there needs to be a robust investigation. Once the investigation is complete and the results are made public, hopefully the industry can then move forward in a constructive way.
Q: What are your thoughts on President Trump’s statement to eliminate trade deals that include the importation of cattle?
President Trump’s statement was reckless. Our industry is a net exporter both by value and tonnage. If the U.S. were to revisit some of our trade deals where we import cattle and make changes, we have to be prepared for the trade partners to treat us similarly.
Q: What do you see happening to the American cattle producer if fair cattle markets aren’t achieved?
The cattle industry has some challenging times ahead, with or without challenging markets. The average age of cattle producers continues to creep upwards. A significant amount of real estate will be changing hands over the next decade. Our industry is capital intensive. There are a lot of hurdles for folks in the industry. You have to be an eternal optimist to be a livestock producer.
Q: If you could sum it up into one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most today?
The cattle industry needs to maintain and build beef demand. We have to eat our way out of this backlog of cattle, and to do that we need to do everything in our power to increase beef demand.