Speaking to about 1,200 ranchers who attended one of six meetings held November 10-15 in the Dakotas, R-CALF USA gained support for a plan it wants President-elect Donald Trump to implement during his first 100 days in office. Herman Schumacher, the group’s co-founder and a South Dakota cattle feeder, organized the meetings along with the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and the Independent Beef Association of North Dakota. The South Dakota meetings were held in Aberdeen, Platte, Huron, Fort Pierre and Herreid. The last meeting was held in Mandan, North Dakota.
The largest turnout was Aberdeen, where more than 400 cattle producers watched R-CALF USA’s presentation, “Making the U.S. Cattle Industry Great Again,” and listened as Kim Ulmer, owner of Livestock-R-Us and co-owner of Huron Continental Marketing, explained why the cattle futures market is no longer a viable risk management tool for ranchers. Attendees stayed an additional hour to ask questions and learn more about the plan to fix the industry’s broken markets.
“The huge turnouts indicate that cattle ranchers are fed up with their marketplace that collapsed even while supply and demand forces were promising much higher prices,” said Schumacher.
“What other industry in the U.S. suffers a 50 percent price collapse when supplies increase by no more than two percent?” Schumacher asked rhetorically.
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard’s presentation showed that the U.S. cattle industry is in sharp decline – shrinking in terms of its participants, its domestic herd size, and its beef output. He said the cattle industry is the last frontier for multinational meatpackers because it’s the only remaining animal industry the meatpackers have not already vertically integrated from birth to plate.
The group’s plan calls for restoring and then preserving marketplace competition. It asks the Trump Administration to put into the hands of cattle producers the tools they need to compete in their domestic market and to take from the hands of the monopolistic meatpacker the tools they use to manipulate and distort competitive market forces. R-CALF USA articulated five urgent tasks for the new administration:
- Reinstate mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef so U.S. ranchers can compete against the growing tide of undifferentiated foreign beef imported into their domestic market.
- Empower producers to monitor and enforce the rules of competition by finalizing the 2010 GIPSA rules that will finally implement the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.
- Enforce antitrust laws to stop packers from using their tremendous market power to exploit cattle producers on one end of the supply chain and consumers on the other.
- Protect the cattle industry’s price discovery market, what Bullard called its holy grail, by banning packer ownership of livestock and cattle contracts that do not contain a negotiated price.
- Pass smart trade policy that will reverse the industry’s trade deficit and require that only beef from cattle born, raised and processed in the U.S. can bear a USA label when exported.
Source: R-CALF USA (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America)
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