VIDEO: NCBA Policy Division Chair, Todd Wilkinson, discusses why breaking up the packers won’t solve issue; instead, more processing facilities are needed

by | Jul 1, 2020 | 0 comments

Photo Courtesy: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pg/BeefUSA 

 

 

Q: What do you think are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets? 

The cattle industry’s biggest issue is lack of shackle space for processing fat cattle. Covid-19 has shown us that we simply don’t have enough packing capacity and when any sort of interruption in the packing process occurs, it puts the feeders and ranchers at a distinct disadvantage. 

 

Q: What solutions need to be implemented to fix this problem? 

More kill capacity would solve this problem. This wouldn’t be an easy fix, but it would be a long-term fix. More regional packing would bring back the negotiating ability we had years ago, and in turn increase competition in our markets.  

 

Q: What are your thoughts on Senator Chuck Grassley’s 50/14 bill to increase negotiated cash trade? 

This bill will put the producer at a significant disadvantage as it will inhibit the ability to market grid cattle. Essentially, if this legislation is passed, it will have an unintended consequence on cattle producers by limiting their options.  

 

Q: Do you think the industry will be able to work through this backlog of cattle we’re facing by the end of the year? 

Yes, the cattle on feed reports show that we will be able to work through this backlog of cattle by the end of the year, with that being said, the profitability is not very good. We’ll get through this backlog, but some feeders won’t be standing on the other side of it. 

 

Q: What are your thoughts on imports of beef and cattle into America? 

Limiting imports would have a disastrous effect on our industry. Short term, we would see a bump in cull cow prices, but long term would see the price of ground beef increase to the point of turning consumers away from our product. 

 

Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most today? 

The cattle industry needs more packing capacity. We need to have enough capacity to avoid bottlenecks like we are currently experiencing. 

 

Q: What are your thoughts on MCOOL? 

Our industry tried MCOOL and it didn’t yield positive results. With that being said, our industry does need better traceability. The public wants to know where their food is coming from, so there is no better time to implement a certain level of traceability. 

 

Q: Any closing statements? 

Covid-19 has demonstrated a huge fundamental flaw in our industry; we have reduced our packing capacity to a point that any strain on the system causes an effect upstream. More shackle space is needed. Breaking up the packers won’t solve our issues; instead, we need more beef processing facilities. 

Related Topics: NCBA

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