Q: What do you feel are the major issues standing in the way of fair cattle markets?
The cattle industry only has four big packers and that has caused the market to become broken. The industry is facing a monopolistic situation, and until that is addressed, we won’t be able to fix the fundamental problems within the market.
Q: What are your thoughts on the DOJ investigation into the big four beef processors?
The major packers need to be investigated for antitrust. Arrangements between the packers also need to be looked into. We’ve seen beef prices increase in grocery stores, however, we haven’t seen prices increase for cattle producers and this disparity continues to grow.
Q: What are your thoughts on the petition circulating to bring about a beef checkoff referendum?
This petition is long overdue. The beef checkoff collects massive amounts of money and instead of those funds working to benefit cattle producers, they are instead being spread around to groups and industries with agendas that work against producers.
Q: How do you feel USDA’s push to implement RFID tags across the industry by 2023 will impact cattle producers?
The USDA is violating the law by attempting to force the cattle industry to use RFID tags without complying with the full rule making process. Regardless of what the cattle industry wants, USDA is going to go full steam ahead requiring the industry to use RFID eartags because their long term plan of vertical integration requires RFID.
We’ve seen vertical integration in both the hog and poultry industries, and the packers want to do the same thing in the cattle industry.
RFID implementation is not as much about traceability for disease as it is a mechanism by which the USDA and packers are moving forward trying to dictate how cattle producers operate.
Q: What can cattle producers do to try to avoid vertical integration?
First off, we have to get to the bottom of what is going on with the antitrust issues concerning the packers.
Our industry had MCOOL and if the pandemic has shown us anything is that we need MCOOL reinstated because almost all consumers want to know where their food comes from. We don’t need to be importing live cattle or beef from countries that don’t have the same standards as we do. The U.S. has the safest beef and cattle industry in the world, but we continue to import our problems.
The industry also needs to remedy the beef checkoff. The program continues to make a certain group of people wealthy, but it isn’t necessarily promoting beef.
Q: Any closing statements?
People need to understand the quality product that cattle producers are producing every single day. The amount of hard work and dedication that go into cattle production is truly admirable.