Last week, leaders of the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Farmers Union, R-CALF USA, and the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association met in Arizona to discuss and agree upon some industry initiatives. However, it did not take long for the organizations to separate once again due to policy differences.
These groups convened at the request of Livestock Marketing Association to discuss challenges involved in the marketing of finished cattle with the ultimate goal of bringing about a more financially sustainable situation for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers.
This meeting allowed the groups to talk openly and candidly about a wide range of important issues facing the industry, including:
- Packer concentration
- Price transparency and discovery
- Packer oversight
- Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement
- Level of captive supply
- Packer capacity
During this meeting, the groups agreed to take these items back to their respective organizations for consideration:
- Expedite the renewal of USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR), including formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library
- Demand the Department of Justice (DOJ) issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward
- Encourage investment in, and development of, new independent, local, and regional packers
Although the meeting brought together diverse producer organizations to identify issues and discuss potential solutions, just a week later R-CALF backed an initiative that called for a producer referendum of the National Beef Checkoff Program. Yesterday, 132 state-elected legislators from 11 states, along with a lieutenant governor sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack pressing for him to “call for an immediate referendum of the beef check off program and allow our producers a voice in their industry.”
R-CALF has long questioned the Beef Checkoff Program and supported a change in the program. Conversely, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association supports the Beef Checkoff Program, staying it does important work to support producers.
“Despite the unprecedented obstacles caused by the pandemic, we have so far managed to obtain approximately 20,000 signed petitions so far, with more being added every day,” said R-CALF USA President Gerald Schreiber.
“We’re grateful that so many state legislators and a lieutenant governor have voluntarily stepped to the plate to represent the interests of their states and districts’ grassroots independent cattle producers, and we hope the Secretary will listen,” Schreiber added.