Meyer: USRSB a 21ST Century Trojan Horse
Just when cattle producers were becoming accustomed to those new millennium buzz words,” Sound Science,” the self-righteous, save the world authorities, have come to our rescue and thrust the term ”sustainability” into our everyday vocabularies. For those of us remaining in farming and ranching, sustainability has been a multi-generational daily event propagated through common sense, hard work and seasoned with a dash of good luck. However, recently our sustainable roots have acquired a new perspective with the 2013 incorporation of the United States Round Table for Sustainable Beef (USRSB). USRSB proclaims the mission, “To advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in the sustainability of U.S. beef production by educating and engaging the beef value-chain through a collaborative multi-stakeholder effort.”
Webster defines “sustainability” as to uphold and support. The USRSB mission statement appears to be the arrival of the cavalry as working producers, pre-occupied with daily ranch management decisions, have little time for off-farm issues. With this positive frontal assault to sustain our industry, only one question remains, “Who are the collaborative multi-stakeholders?”
Upon closer examination of the multi-stakeholders it becomes apparent that beef producers are facing the enemy disguised as a giant Trojan horse. A giant wooden horse, waiting to be towed inside the castle where under the cover of darkness, the final blow of beef industry vertical integration will be delivered; a collaborative effort to insert the final piece of the vertical integration puzzle for all of U.S. agriculture.
To better understand the odds producers are up against let’s examine the missions by which these multi- stakeholders plan to educate and engage producers and our industry.
The USRSB boasts 43 founding members with the majority being members and affiliate organizations of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). However NCBA has a history of anti – producer support for marketing issues. Under their fake producer disguise NCBA and affiliates were successful in persuading Congress to repeal Country of Origen Labeling (COOL). Their “kill COOL” packer-orchestrated charge resulted in a $20 billion loss to cattle producers within the first 9 months. At the same time, packer profits increased from $17 per animal to $194. Since February this year, packers have collaborated to increase their per head margins by 60 percent with a peak profits over $400 per head. Since May 25th packers initiated 3 weeks of reduced supplies of negotiated cash cattle, relying heavily upon their domestic and foreign captive supplies. Their 50 percent decline of purchased cash inventory successfully tanked the cash market at $106.87, culminating an 8 year low costing feeders and producers billions. During this same period retail sales were strong with a .38 percent Activity Index gain and a 1 percent featured rate increase, disputing claims of weak consumer demands.
Since the Jan. 1, 2016 repeal of COOL, it is estimated that producers have lost over $60 billion in revenue due to depressed markets and competition with imported beef being falsely mislabeled as USA beef. These $60 billion producer losses translate into losses of over $420 billion of U.S. true renewable wealth. Armed with their thieving tactics, USRSB’s largest fake producer constituent is a pro packer Trojan horse stakeholders, collaborating and conspiring to engage the beef value chain to sustain monopolistic power.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a civil society USRSB stakeholder, is an international fund raising organization with focus on species-related conservation projects and the establishment of nature reserves. WWF, an anti – domesticated animal organization, encourages high income countries, like the United States, to eat less beef.
WWF in conjunction with other conservation groups has its eye on the Northern Great Plains which spans more than 180 million acres and crosses five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. To conquer the Northern Great Plains, WWF assisted the American Prairie Foundation’s acquisition of 31,320 domestic livestock grazing acres in Montana for wildlife restoration. Grants from our U.S. Government along with partnerships from Coca Cola and Walmart enable this Trojan horse participant to remove domestic livestock from beef producing grasslands. Worldwide, WWF is acquiring land at astonishing rates through their “debt-for-nature” swaps. Funding for these swaps is generated through an unprecedented partnership between WWF, Conservation International, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. government.
The Nature Conservancy, another USRSB member, works in cooperation with the National Wildlife Federation and the World Animal Foundation to eliminate domestic livestock grazing on federal, state and private grasslands. The Nature Conservancy coordinates efforts to advance the Dakota Grasslands Conservation Area (DGCA), through the purchasing of perpetual conservation easements from private landowners thereby limiting future landowner activities.
Nature Conservancy is transitioning staff to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service offices in South Dakota to help purchase perpetual conservation easements. Nature Conservancy also works with legislators and other decision-makers to ensure that funding from federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and other federal and state sources flows to the DGCA to fund their anti-domestic livestock programs.
Both the Nature Conservancy and WWF are stealth Trojan horse participants with underlying motives to remove domestic livestock from the grasslands and aiding to the demise of family agriculture. Both organizations have succeeded in removing domestic livestock from 1.1 million acres of grasslands in northeast Montana.
Other USRSB Trojan horse stakeholders include Arby’s Restaurant Group, Costco Wholesale Corporation, Mc Donald’s Corporation, Target, Taco Bell, Wendy and Walmart. All retail members seeking to improve their financial bottom line through the exploitation of producers burdened with expensive source and age documentation.
The first requirement USRSB stakeholders are seeking, is the establishment of a national animal identification system to monitor producer premise and livestock (personal property) numbers. The USRSB web site proudly proclaims, “USRSB recognizes the necessity of animal identification for the U.S. beef cattle herd to measure success and improvements in sustainability and embraces a nationwide goal of animal identification for purposes of disease traceability, herd security, consumer confidence, quality improvement, international market access, and a means to participate in supply chain programs that can offer value-added benefits.” Two of the most alarming points of this statement are “quality improvement and market access” which were the (2) main driving principles for vertical integration in the hog and poultry industries. When processors and retailers dictate quality and market access the ultimate battle of price fixation has been won and beef producers will join the ranks with their swine and poultry colleagues as serfs on their own land.
USRSB and their global predecessor, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) are two of the largest threats to family agriculture and if left unchecked will result in the extinction of family beef production at the hands of large multi-corporate conglomerates seeking to exploit the industry for their monopolistic control. The stakeholders of these organizations are establishing total industry control through producer intimidation and proclamation of their superior “sustainable” knowledge.
Looking back at past beef industry cycles, this new “sustainable” charge is nothing more than a continuance of past corporate market manipulation which congress attempted to fix with the 1921 Packers and Stockyard Act. The only change this time around is the collusion of stakeholders who not only want to steal your markets but also wish to remove your cattle off state and federal grasslands.
As cattlemen, why would we want to sustain a broken market system in which 35 producers are forced out of business each day and the producer share of the beef dollar is 14.8 cents versus a retail- wholesale share of 85.2 cents? Are we willing to obediently allow USRSB to instill their monopolistic rhetoric and policies upon our industry?
In the past 75 years, cattle producers have received near parity prices for their livestock only 3 years, 2013-2015, resulting from the enforcement of COOL. Are we willing to let the USRSB stakeholders vertically integrate our beef industry and casting us into serfdom without a fight? Will we continue to ignore the packer carnage of our industry or will we take charge of our destiny and replace the USRSB Trojan horse coup with a regenerative producer charge to restore family agriculture?