Q: What do you think are the issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
Captive supply being held against the cattle producer is one of the biggest issues facing our cattle markets. This supply comes in the form of contract pricing without cash market discovery. It also comes in the form of imports.
Another issue is our beef checkoff program. Those funds should be promoting American beef, but instead they are being used against producers.
Q: Why does the cattle industry need a beef checkoff referendum and what are some of the hurdles standing in the way of it?
Currently, our beef checkoff program isn’t working for producers. The industry has lost somewhere between 300,000-400,000 producers. On top of that, when the checkoff was first implemented, per capita beef consumption was right around 80 lbs. Today, per capita beef consumption has dropped to approximately 56 lbs.
If we can get this referendum passed and get back to the drawing board, we need the checkoff program to exclusively promote U.S. beef and we need to make sure no lobbying organization is a contractor for the program.
Q: What are your thoughts on the DOJ investigation into our four big beef processors?
The DOJ has turned a blind eye to all the mergers, not just in the packing sector, but all throughout the agriculture industry. It’s about time the DOJ does something; hopefully it will be a fair investigation without any outside factors influencing it.
Q: What do you see happening to the American cattle producer if substantial changes aren’t made to fix our lop-sided cattle markets?
The cattle industry will become vertically integrated, similar to the hog and chicken industries. Actual ownership of farm and ranch land will be a thing of the past. Young folks who have the dream to own a farm or ranch won’t be able to, the best they can hope for is to manage cattle for a big corporation.
If the U.S. doesn’t start protecting our own food supply chain, we will see consumers turning more towards foreign food options.
Q: Do you have any closing statements?
It’s time for producers, specifically young producers to get involved and make their voices heard. Folks need to be involved with organizations that exclusively represent the cattle producer. There are organizations out there that claim to represent cattle producers, but when it’s all said and done, they don’t have cattle producer’s best interests in mind.