Q: Can you elaborate on the recent MCOOL resolution that was brought forward by a group of senators, including yourself?
We want to make it clear that there is a strong bipartisan constituency who supports MCOOL. Covid-19 has shown us the importance of protecting our country’s food supply chain, and MCOOL does just that. It also ensures the American consumer will know where their beef is being produced. Here in America, we produce the highest quality beef in the world; it is only fair that the American people have the choice to select this product in the grocery store.
Q: Will we be seeing a law passed to reinstate MCOOL in the near future?
There are strong constituencies on the other side that are fighting the reinstatement of MCOOL. However, there is a very compelling argument for MCOOL given what is going on around the world and here in our country due to coronavirus. The virus has brought to light supply chain and supply chain management issues. For beef, MCOOL would alleviate some of those issues.
Q: What major issues are standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
The cattle industry is facing concentration of our processing sector; four companies control 80% of the slaughter. The USDA and the DOJ need to investigate the packers and questions need to be answered as to why competition in our cattle markets has become marginal.
Q: Is there a timeline for the Department of Justice’s investigation?
Situations like this are hard to gauge. However, we need answers and solutions as quickly as possible. The industry needs to keep the pressure on to see results from this investigation.
Q: Why have anti-trust laws not been enforced throughout the years?
Folks have become numb to the situation, as it has slowly developed over the years. We need change in our cattle industry to avoid becoming the next hog industry.
Q: Do you think the cattle industry can unite?
We have to find a path forward to work together. The chances of succeeding are much higher when we have a unified voice on a particular issue.
Q: What are you hearing from your constituents?
Frustration. There were structural issues before Covid-19. Folks aren’t sure how they will get through another year. Hopefully these direct payments coming out will help producers get by till prices improve.
Q: Bankruptcies in the agriculture industry are on the rise, along with suicide rates. How do we dig ourselves out of this hole that the industry has found itself in?
Prices and profitability need to come back. Most producers just want to make a living and take care of their families. The markets need to be restored back to where producers are getting a fair price for what they do.
Q: In one sentence what does the cattle industry need most today?
A competitive market and a fair price.