Q: What do you think are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
Our consolidated meatpacking industry is the main issue standing in the way of fair cattle markets. If packer consolidation isn’t addressed, the way we produce beef in the U.S. will be forever changed. Trade is also a significant issue facing the industry.
Q: What solutions are needed to solve the issue of packer consolidation?
The Attorney General needs to do an investigation into the meatpacking sector to take a closer look at their practices and determine if any illegal activity has and/or is currently occurring.
As of today, our cattle markets are easily manipulated because of the low percentage of cash trade. The 50/14 bill would increase this number and bring competition back to the markets.
Diversifying state meat packing facilities would open up large markets of retail customers to these smaller facilities. Long term this could somewhat help diversify the market.
Country of origin labeling is essential in our industry because if customers are given the choice to buy meat from the U.S. or from a foreign country, they’re going to choose the highest quality product, U.S. beef.
Q: What are your thoughts on beef and cattle imports?
Importing beef from Brazil has been and continues to be a concern. Currently, it makes no sense that we are importing beef into a market that is depressed. In the long run, giving the consumers a choice with country of origin labeling would fix the issue of imported beef.
Q: What are you hearing from your constituents that are dealing with these lop-sided cattle markets?
The concern among cattle producers started with trade, then Covid-19, and now the investigations into the meatpacking industry. Cattle producers across the board are experiencing significant losses while the packers continue to see fat profit margins; this concerns all cattle producers.
Q: Do you think there is a chance we could price ourselves out of a product at the retail level?
Cow calf producers and feeders are going broke, meatpackers are making record profits, and the consumer is being gouged at the meat counter; there is clearly something wrong with this system. If you allow a system to work with capitalistic standards, the consumer is going to benefit and we aren’t seeing that.
Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most right now?
The cattle industry needs fairness in the marketplace. Those in agriculture know they aren’t ever going to be rich; they just want to make a living.
Q: Any closing statements?
The concern of vertical integration is very real. All the products raised in agriculture are in danger of going down this path.