Q: What are the biggest issues facing our industry?
We are being unfair to our consumers by not labeling our domestic beef as product of the USA. We can identify USA beef when it is exported, but tragically we can’t do that here in the US. This is an injustice to our consumers.
We are making a real mistake importing beef, even if it isn’t a large quantity. This imported beef is cheaper and lesser quality. MCOOL needs to be reinstated so consumers can differentiate between our high quality domestic product and imported beef.
Q: Do you feel our checkoff dollars are serving our producers adequately?
On a national level, our checkoff dollars are not being used to their full potential. It is disappointing to watch one organization, a policy organization, have access to these funds. The Beef Checkoff is in need of an overhaul.
With that being said, the state of South Dakota does an impressive job with their checkoff dollars. The South Dakota Beef Council is close to the independent producers, and they also listen to their input.
Q: How do we reform our checkoff to get it more in line to help our independent producers?
There are powerful forces in our country that aren’t going to allow some things from happening, and tragically the one that pays the price for this will always be the consumer. We as independent producers are paying the checkoff, and we should be seeing more positive results from these funds.
Q: Where are we at in the process of getting MCOOL reinstated?
Congress needs to reconvene for MCOOL to be legislated and passed. The MCOOL petition that has been circulating is gaining quite a few signatures, with a significant amount of those signatures being consumers. This is important because we need to listen to what the consumer wants.
When MCOOL was in place, ranchers were able to get beyond the break-even point. We need to get back to being above this break-even point for ranchers to be able to stay in business.
Q: How can competition be increased within our cattle markets?
More negotiated cash sales.
Q: Where do you see the ranching industry going if a significant change isn’t implemented?
A significant amount of operations will be turned into contract growing situations unless changes are made. There will be fewer ranches and folks will be raising cattle that they don’t own. This will be comparable to what we see in the hog industry.
Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most right now?
To get MCOOL labels on USA beef.
Q: Any closing statements?
We need to join together so change can be brought forth in our cattle industry. We also need to keep in contact with our consumers so it is clear what they are wanting.