Photo Credit: Amy Rorvig Smith
Q: What do you feel are the biggest issues facing our cattle industry?
Covid-19 disrupting our marketing plans. Uncertainty caused by the virus is driving this market. Normally 50% of our beef would be going to the restaurant industry, but they haven’t been functioning for the past 6 weeks.
Q: What will solve these issues within the cattle markets?
There is no simple answer. None of these issues are new. They’ve been brought to the forefront in the last 6-8 months, starting with the Tyson packing plant fire in Holcomb, KS that disrupted operations. Then Covid-19 came along and disrupted operations again. More packers would add competition to the market. North Dakota Stockmen’s Association has signed onto letters expressing the need for both the Department of Justice and USDA to look into investigations.
Q: How do we create more competition within the cattle markets?
On a really small scale, it would be great to see more main street butcher shops. This isn’t the answer for the big picture, but it would be great on a smaller scale. We’ll fight these small numbers of large packers forever.
Q: How do you see these tough times within the cattle markets affecting your area and rural America as a whole?
It’s a financial bloodbath right now. Whether you’re in the cow/calf world, or the feedlot world, we’re eating equity. Trying to operate at these prices levels isn’t working the way we’d like it to.
Q: What can independent producers do to have our voices be heard?
There is no simple solution; otherwise we would have fixed it by now. We just keep wrestling this alligator. We have to work our way through record amounts of protein. We need to be ready for the next coronavirus. We’ve been through similar situations, and there will be another one. Hopefully we can keep our food supply chain moving. Our consumers need a steady, reliable source of food. As producers, it’s important that we have a steady demand for our product.
Q: In one sentence, what does the cattle industry need most right now?
In the short term, we need this country to get back to work. We need to keep selling our product as a safe, affordable product for our consumers. We need to have a steady, constant supply chain that will move our product. We need to keep our consumer demand, both domestically and internationally strong. There is no one answer.