Profitability and market access on top of R-CALF’s priority list
The annual meeting of the Colorado Independent CattleGrowers Association in Cortex, Colo., brought producers together to discuss issues from wolves to country of origin labeling (COOL).
The July 19-20 meeting included a tour of Ute Mountain Farm and Ranch Enterprise.
RCALF CEO Bill Bullard spoke to the group briefly about the lawsuit R-CALF filed against Big Four, Tyson, Cargill, JBS and National Beef Packing Company, LLC, alleging the collusion of the companies to unlawfully depress prices paid to U.S. beef producers. Bullard spoke also about the increasing numbers of producers leaving the industry, as well as trade.
Tom DeWeese of the American Policy Center spoke about sustainability. CICA President Cody Jolly said DeWeese pointed out two policies adopted by the World Wildlife Federation that are in opposition to the beef industry. Concerning, Jolly said, is the WWF co-founded the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and it’s U.S. counterpart, infiltrating the industry in what he said is an attempt to dictate policy.
Norman MacLeod, of Gaelic Wolf Consulting, spoke to producers about the wolf issue in Colorado. Jolly said MacLeod was adamant that the “reintroduction” verbiage of wolves is incorrect, saying it is an introduction of a breed of wolves that aren’t native to the state, at the expense of the existing wolf population.
Gerald Schreiber, a Woodrow rancher and longtime CICA member, who was elected R-CALF’s new president in January, also attended the meeting and said the wolf issue is one all livestock groups in the state should be united in opposing.
The group also toured Ute Mountain Farm and Ranch Enterprises, a 7,700-acre irrigated operation that produces corn, alfalfa, wheat and maintains a 700-head cow herd.
Jolly is nearing the end of his two-year term as CICA president with ballots sent out in August prior to the fall meeting. Curt Werner, a producer from Merino who currently serves as vice president, is expected to take the position.
Schreiber said the R-CALF board’s newest members include a slate of highly qualified individuals who are young and enthusiastic, completing the diverse board.
The economics of the cattle business, Schreiber said, are a struggle common to producers across the country. The aforementioned lawsuit brought forward by the group, he said, is an attempt to level the playing field for producers against packers. He said an econometrics study completed by Scott and Scott, recently determined just under an 8 percent lowering of cattle prices as a result of collusion by packers.
“We have the intestinal fortitude as an organization with people like Eric Nelson and Jim Jenson from Riverton, Wyo., and Weinreis from Nebraska and Richard Chambers from Kansas,” he said. “Anytime you buck the big guys, there could be repercussions.”
Competition in markets, market access, and profitability are the issues Schreiber said are the issues most central to producers in the U.S. and the issues he hopes the litigation will address, though the process will be lengthy.
“We think this is one of the last things we, as an industry, can do before we go to an almost completely vertically integrated industry like chickens, and later hogs,” he said.
Nationally, one of the issues Schreiber is concerned with is the USDA’s move away from free metal identification tags to RFID tags by 2023.
“We’re absolutely against it because it will force you to a premise ID and we think they’re circumventing the Administrative Procedures Act,” he said.
The move has flown under the radar, he said, and is not only an additional expense but reduces the added value captured by producers who elect to use the RFID tags.
The ratification of USMCA is another move Schreiber said R-CALF opposes in the interest of the profitability of U.S. beef producers. The agreement, he said, does nothing to prevent the mislabeling of beef as a product of the U.S. The deception of the misleading labels, he said, is at the expense, too, of urban consumers who don’t understand the labeling.
The 20th annual R-CALF USA meeting will be Aug. 15-16 in Deadwood, S.D. Tomi Lahren, who has been an outspoken advocate for the beef industry, will be the keynote speaker. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at email@example.com or (970) 392-4410.