NCBA letter to Congressional ag leaders a step in the right direction

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, along with 37 state affiliate organizations have sent a letter to US Senate and House Ag Committee leadership to address critical issues in the cattle industry. 

Missouri Cattlemen’s Executive Director Mike Deering says the letter is a start.  “To develop some unity amongst the states and amongst the national organization so that we can provide some real relief and some real answers to the cattle producers we represent,” he says. 

Deering tells Brownfield Missouri cattle producers would have taken their request a step further.  “We also would have asked for a hearing from the House and the Senate Ag Committees to get everyone in a room and talk about these issues and make it as transparent as possible the problems that the beef cattle industry is facing,” he says.  “And ultimately get elected leaders’ attention to work on these issues.”

Cody Burkham, executive vice president of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association says the letter outlines real, producer driven solutions that can make meaningful changes within the industry.  “The biggest key right there, in all the marketing discussions is the increase of packing capacity across the nation,” he says. 

In addition to expanding beef processing capacity, the groups also want to see labor policies improved, increase transparency in the cattle markets by reauthorizing Livestock Mandatory Reporting, support industry efforts to reform “Product of the USA” generic labeling, and ensure proper oversight of cattle market players by concluding the ongoing US Department of Justice investigation into the meatpacking sector.
Deering says cattle producers aren’t thrilled to be seeking government intervention.

“However, it has not worked in the past in hoping for the best and hoping that price discovery just magically happens, and market transparency happens,” he says.  “And trusting that our partners in this business are just going to do the right thing.”

However, Oklahoma State livestock economist Derrell Peel says he cautions against relying too much on a legislative fix.  “It really fails to consider the way the markets work and the way the markets have evolved to the way they have,” he says.  “And it sets up something that has a lot of potential unintended consequences that we have to address later, that we might regret.”

Thirty-seven state cattle groups that have signed onto the letter, including: Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association, Illinois Beef Association, Indiana Beef Association, Kansas Livestock Association, Michigan Cattlemen’s Association, Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, Nebraska Cattlemen, Ohio Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association,
Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association, Wisconsin Cattlemen’s Association.

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