Photo courtesy Lt. Governor Larry Rhoden Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/lgrhoden
Q: What do you think are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
Lack of competition in our cattle markets is the major issue. Rural America loves the free market system, but the free market system has been short circuited in the cattle industry. Whenever a national or international event occurs that disrupts the market, we see a bottleneck form at the processing level because our packing industry is heavily concentrated with four packers controlling approximately 80% of beef processing.
Q: What solutions can be put in place to fix this issue?
Being able to sell state inspected beef across state lines would greatly benefit South Dakota cattle producers. As a state, South Dakota needs to encourage more processing and work to find additional markets, whether they are in state or out of state.
Q: As an industry, why have we let packer concentration continue for thirty plus years?
Cattle producers have a difficult time speaking as one voice because we are all independent. Corporate America, which controls the packers, has one strong voice. It’s clear that the packing industry has a much stronger lobby than cattle producers.
Q: What are your thoughts on President Trump’s statement to eliminate cattle imports? Also what are your thoughts on beef and cattle imports?
As a producer dealing with tough markets, it’s difficult not to oppose foreign imports of beef. Foreign countries have less regulations and lower quality standards than our domestic product, but at the same time both products are sold side-by-side. This situation makes no sense and we owe it to our American cattle producers to provide them with a better market.
Q: If substantial changes aren’t made and cattle markets continue to be lop-sided, what do you see happening to the American cattle producer?
With the way things stand today, it’s difficult to keep a positive outlook. The cattle industry should be more than motivated to make changes so we can turn this situation around. We need to add the ability for our cattle producers to thrive and survive.
Q: If you could sum it up into one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most today?
The cattle industry needs competition in the processing sector.
Q: What are you hearing from cattle producers across the state of South Dakota?
Cattle producers want a fair market. When demand is high for a product, whoever produces that product gets the opportunity to enjoy increased profits. The cattle industry is experiencing high demand for beef, but cattle producers aren’t reaping any of the rewards from this demand.
Q: How have you seen these tough economic times affect your rural area?
Cattle producers are used to getting by, they’re resilient people. They are conservative folks who know how to enjoy the good times, which are few and far between, and they also know how to deal with the bad times.