Q: What do you feel are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
Concentration within our processing sector that has led to the large spread between boxed beef prices and cattle prices. Loss of our cash markets.
Q: What are your thoughts on increased negotiated cash trade? Specifically the 50/14 bill recently introduced?
This bill gives cattle feeders more leverage. This is an effort to improve our markets and actually make the packers compete for our product.
Q: Where do you think we stand right now with our cowherd numbers, and how do you see that affecting the cattle markets going forward?
Our cow numbers are dropping, which is positive. What matters is having enough leverage to get a fair price on cattle. Our industry has a lot of issues going forward; right now we have right about 700,000 head of backlogged fat cattle to work through.
Q: How are these lop-sided cattle markets affecting the seedstock business?
The seedstock producers haven’t felt the impact of these tough cattle markets. However, if this situation continues and these pressured markets affect calves sold this summer and fall, it will have a significant impact on producers not being able to spend as much money on bulls.
Q: Can you elaborate on imports during the time MCOOL was in place?
During the MCOOL years, Mexican and Canadian ranchers and feeders received record prices for their cattle. Also, there were two or three years while MCOOL was in place that the U.S. took record amounts of both cattle and beef from Canada and Mexico.
Q: Do you think producer’s checkoff dollars are being used appropriately?
The dollars that have been spent to improve the export market have yielded tremendous results. Downside is we don’t have the industry support for the checkoff like we should because our beef checkoff contracts with policy groups.
Q: What do you feel will come of the Department of Justice investigation into meatpacker pricing?
It’s good to see the investigation get turned over from the USDA to the DOJ. The USDA has not been a friend of competitive markets. What I’d really like to see is a class action suit against the packers for price gouging. The industry needs to keep the pressure on after what the packers have done to cattle producers.
Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most right now?
The president of the United States, under his state of emergency authority, should come out and require that packers pay a minimum price based on a percentage of boxed beef. This would include cow plants also.
Q: What are your thoughts on vertical integration within the cattle industry today?
All you have to do is break the feeders and make contractors out of them to vertically integrate this industry. Today, we’re as close as we’ve ever been to vertical integration.
Q: Do you have any closing statements you’d like to make?
We’re constantly looking to the government to fix our problems, but we can’t wait for the government. Tremendous opportunity has surfaced from our packing industry being so greedy. Times like this bring opportunity.