Q: What are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
The fault lies on our justice system, our federal government, for not keeping our packing industry in check. These processors are defiant of anti-trust laws.
We’ve slowly become more and more concentrated within the packing, food, and feeding industry. Due to this, we’ve eliminated a lot of the competition that keeps our industry viable and healthy.
Q: Do you feel the cattle industry will receive a fair investigation by the Department of Justice regarding potential illegal practices by meatpackers?
The large processing plants of the world (JBS, Cargill, Tyson, Smithfield) are feeding the population. It will be tough for legislators to put the pressure on these processors when they’re the ones churning out our nation’s protein, and at the same time we’re facing shortages. They won’t add insult to injury. This investigation should’ve taken place 20 years ago.
Q: What are your thoughts on the 30/14 negotiated cash trade proposal?
It is important to stand behind people who are trying to make changes come about within our cattle industry, and that’s what this proposal is trying to do. We not only have corporate control in the packing industry, but JBS is probably the biggest cattle feeder in the U.S. Packers have attained captive supply through formula and grid cattle. An increased negotiated cash trade is a step in the right direction to get competition back in our fed cattle markets.
Q: What are you hearing from folks out in the country? What do you see these tumultuous times doing to rural America as a whole?
If we keep going down the path we’re on now, we’re going to take even more competition out of the feeder cattle. As an industry, we continue to inch closer to becoming the next chicken and hog industry.
Q: Why has the industry let packer consolidation get to this extreme?
Complacency. As a society, we’ve never had to go through hard times. Nobody stands for anything anymore. We’ve become a nation that expects the government to take care of us.
Q: What is your outlook for calves this fall?
It will have to get substantially better to be pathetic.
Q: What are your thoughts on the stimulus dollars that will be sent out to producers?
Our government refuses to enforce anti-trust laws on the inevitable end user of our product, the packer, and the packers have us by the throat. As long as we have a government that encourages such actions and turns a blind eye to the situation, they owe us something.
Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most right now?