‘Code of the West’ convention brings cattle producers, industry colleagues together
DEADWOOD, S.D. — R-CALF USA hosted its 23rd Annual National Convention “Code of the West” in Deadwood, S.D., Aug. 18-19, 2022. At least 25 states were represented with about 400 cattle producers, consumers and industry representatives in attendance. Several thousand additional guests viewed the convention through online streaming, which enabled the convention to reach far into cattle county.
The convention focused on industry reforms needed to assist the nation’s cattle producers who are facing extraordinary hardships due to widespread drought, the ongoing horizontal and vertical integration of the cattle supply chain, depressed cattle prices, skyrocketing input costs and record-breaking foreign beef imports.
Convention attendees and viewers participated in 16 powerful presentations and one panel discussion, addressing topics such as trade, animal health, competition, property rights, the beef checkoff program and antitrust.
Attendees had the opportunity to engage with speakers like U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux and Senior Adviser for Fair and Competitive Markets Andy Green. The government officials participated in all or most of the convention and met one-on-one with many attendees from across the United States.
“I have never seen such a well balanced and educational lineup of presentations from top to bottom, both sides of the aisle, and many walks of life,” said R-CALF USA President Brett Kenzy. “The icing on the cake was the fact that many presenters, including the USDA officials, stuck around to take in the other presentations and visit with attendees and fellow presenters.”
Attendees and viewers heard from Tracy Hunt, Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef expert and Harriet Hageman, water, natural resources and constitutional attorney, who is now the Republican candidate for Congress in Wyoming.
Hageman expressed concern that administrative agencies are using guidance documents, fact sheets, or answers to frequently asked questions to change Congressional statutes. “I am tired of administrative agencies and unelected bureaucrats adopting these kinds of mandates (mandatory radio frequency identification eartags) that can cost our industry billions of dollars and Congress never lays eyes on what it is they’re doing. That is truly what is destroying our republic.”
Nathan Miller, Georgetown University economist and professor, provided attendees and viewers with his economic analysis of the cattle market.
Focusing on the increased spread between cattle prices and wholesale beef prices and the current configuration of the market, Miller explained that economic theory suggests that formula contracts – such as those that make up roughly 70% of all cattle procurement today – may roughly double packers’ profit margins.
“Our 2022 convention served as a fantastic opportunity for producers to come together and work to find solutions for the issues cattle producers around the country are facing,” said R-CALF USA Marketing Director Jaiden Moreland. “We were incredibly honored to facilitate such inspiring conversations and appreciate all who attended and tuned in. This convention was a great step in the effort to continue working towards prosperity and improvement in the U.S. cattle industry.”
Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have introduced a bill to double USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program funding.
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