Q: What is the DIRECT Act and why is it needed?
Covid-19 has laid bare some of the weaknesses in our food supply chain. The DIRECT Act offers flexibility to both consumers and smaller processors. The act allows state-inspected facilities to sell meat directly to consumers across state lines through eCommerce.
Q: Has there been any pushback on the DIRECT Act?
As of today, there hasn’t been any pushback on the Direct Act. Folks in Congress have been very supportive of the bill. With that being said, the fate of the bill is still unknown as Nancy Pelosi decides which bills will be voted upon. Even if we don’t get a vote on the bill this year, we will continue to work towards getting this act passed. The DIRECT Act is Covid-19 related so there is a possibility that if a Covid-19 package is put together, the bill could be attached.
Q: How will this bill benefit the consumer?
Consumers don’t have a lot of choices when it comes to purchasing beef. They have the option to buy protein from the big meat processors at their local grocery stores, but many folks don’t have the option to purchase beef at a local locker, especially those who reside in urban areas. Folks in rural America are used to having the option to purchase from a local locker, but since urban dwelling folks don’t, this bill will give them additional purchasing options.
Q: What do you feel are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
Concentration at the packer level is the root cause of our unfair markets. This concentration has led to significant weakness in the marketplace. The cattle industry needs an environment where small and regional packers can get back in the game to create a strong, robust market.
Q: What are your thoughts on Senator Grassley’s 50/14 legislation?
Increasing negotiated cash trade would benefit both consumers and producers, however when the government gets involved with mandates in agricultural markets, there tends to be unintended consequences.
Q: What are your thoughts on MCOOL?
The product of USA label as it exists today is not appropriate. It is insulating that packers have the ability to import beef from other countries, repackage it, and label it as product of USA.
Q: Do you think the beef industry could price itself out of a product if retail prices don’t return to pre-Covid-19 levels?
The gap between what the consumer is paying for beef and what the producer is being paid for cattle is a long way from fair. The lack of competition at the processing level has brought this on. If we can increase this competition, we’ll see prices at the retail level return to normal and our cattle markets will find fairness.
Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most today?
Both cattle producers and consumers would be better served with more competition at the processing level.