The Associated Press reports:
FORT PIERRE — A national cattlemen's organization told South Dakota ranchers that unfair free-trade deals and the consolidation of the packing plant industry are to blame for plunging prices in their industry over the past two years.
Ranchers from across western South Dakota gathered in Fort Pierre on Sunday to listen to a presentation by Bill Bullard, chief executive of R-CALF USA, or the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America, according to the Capital Journal (http://bit.ly/2fRDNnM ). The meeting was among several being held statewide by the Montana-based organization, which promotes the interests of cattle producers and has members in 46 states.
Bullard noted that U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and other federal officials have touted the fact that U.S. agriculture exports, including beef, have set records the past seven years. But he said that's deceptive. Bullard said imports of foreign beef have far outstripped U.S. beef exports, pushing prices down for South Dakota ranchers selling their calves in the fall.
He said Donald Trump's election to the White House provides “a window of opportunity” to bring about changes in federal policies that affect the cattle industry. Bryan Hanson, president of R-CALF USA, echoed those sentiments, saying Trump's criticism of free-trade agreements aligns with the group's concerns.
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Source: Rapid City Journal