Q: What do you feel are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
MCOOL and imports of cattle and beef into the U.S. are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets. Imports of beef and cattle make it tough for American producers to be profitable. All too often our industry is flooded with foreign product. These imports make it tough to be profitable.
Another issue is concentration of our meatpacking industry. Currently, there are numerous feeders who can’t even get a bid, let alone receive a fair price for their cattle.
Q: What are your thoughts on a mandated level of negotiated cash trade?
Fifty-percent negotiated cash trade or more is ideal. There is no need to give the packers a 70% captive supply. Cow calf and yearling operators sell their cattle in an open market and this results in a transparent, competitive market. The fat cattle market is manipulated with formulated deals that go on behind the scenes. We saw this occur in the hog industry, and as a result that industry is vertically integrated.
Q: Why do you think the cattle industry has turned a blind eye to the major industry issues throughout the years?
Follow the money; congressmen and senators have money thrown at them by agricultural organizations that don’t necessarily have cattle producer’s best interest in mind.
Our industry has regulations that are prohibitive to producers and custom packinghouses. Beef must be federally or state inspected in order to be sold to a retailer. On top of that, beef can’t be sold across state lines unless it is federally inspected. There are small grocery stores in western South Dakota that can’t get meat on their shelves and cattle surround them. This shouldn’t be an issue. Like Iowa, state inspected beef plants should be able to ship across state lines. If we eased these regulations our custom slaughter plants would be able to help alleviate problems on the local level.
Q: If you could sum it up in one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most right now?
The cattle industry needs MCOOL and we need to limit imports of cattle and beef into this country until we can get our U.S. producers’ livestock sold.
Q: Any closing statements?
USDA is trying to force EID (electronic identification) on cattle producers and producers don’t have the money to pay for this. The USDA is doing their best to require EID without a comment period. This is an exercise of futility. If cattle producers continue to go broke, no one is going to care if cattle have identification.