Long Range Plan to help rancher profitability
Billings, Mont. – The Board of Directors of R-CALF USA presented a Cattle Industry Long Range Plan, Dec. 16, 2020.
According to the news release, the plan sets forth a five-year roadmap for U.S. cattle producers, and provides the means to measure their industry’s success as the plan unfolds. For example, the group’s measurable goal for carrying out the strategy to “Strengthen the U.S. cattle industry’s role in achieving lasting food security for the United States” is that by 2025, the consumption of beef from cattle born, raised, and harvested in the United States will constitute at least 90% of domestic beef consumption.
The Industry Objectives of R-CALF USA’s Cattle Industry Long Range Plan include:
1.Grow domestic and export demand for beef from United States-born, United States-raised and United States-harvested cattle by promoting the United States’ unparalleled commitment and investment to cattle husbandry practices and beef quality and safety.
2.Improve cattle sector profitability for United States cattle farmers and ranchers by expanding available marketing outlets and increasing both competition and transparency within domestic and export markets for cattle and beef
3.Intensify efforts to preserve and protect the liberty and freedom of United States independent cattle producers to adopt production practices of their choosing based on their assessment of competitive market forces.
4.Elevate the United States cattle industry’s critical role in achieving the United States’ food security needs for an uninterrupted supply of high-quality United States-produced beef protein
The full plan can be found at r-calfusa.com or on the group’s Facebook page.
Several board members presented the plan in a live Facebook presentation the evening of Dec. 16. Gregory, South Dakota, board member Brett Kenzy said the idea was borne after he reviewed a “long range plan” developed by the Beef Checkoff oversight group, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board.
These are the main goals of the Beef Checkoff’s Long Range Plan, not to be confused with the Long Range Plan that R-CALF USA just released:
1.Grow global demand for U.S. beef by promoting beef’s health and nutritional benefits, satisfying flavor and unparalleled safety.
2.Improve industry-wide profitability by expanding processing capacity and developing improved value-capture models.
3.Intensify efforts in researching, improving and communicating U.S. beef industry sustainability.
4.Make traceability a reality in the U.S. beef industry.
Kenzy said after reading the above goals, he was frustrated that there was no mention of competition, value discovery, product differentiation, or addressing imported beef.
“So what do you do? Post a snarky comment on social media and go on with your life? Over time…it got me thinking. It became obvious that there is a beef production part of our industry and a cattle production part of our industry,” said Kenzy in the R-CALF Facebook presentation.
“Our plan is a plan for cattlemen. And if we achieve these goals, it will be done by cattlemen. The answers come through Washington, but it has to be done by cattlemen. We have the skin in the game, we are the ones that have to get into this and get this done,” he said.
Legislation for mandatory Country of Origin Labeling, repeal of the current beef checkoff, a promotion program that markets and advertises USA born, raised and harvested beef, reform of trade rules to reflect the birthplace of the animal, engagement with consumer groups to educate them on the economic and health advantages if supporting domestic cattle production, the “50/14 spot market bill,” enforcement of anti-trust laws and Packers and Stockyards Act, and several more legislative and industry-led actions are listed as goals of the organization.
Kenzy said some people will read the plan and say “we don’t have five years.” He says he agrees with this, and reminds producers that it is up to every producer, not just R-CALF USA to get involved.
“We are in a time of transition in this nation. Maybe some good can come of the disarray we find ourselves in,” he said.
Another board member, Eric Nelson of Iowa, said the industry needs to immediately focus on passage of the Grassley Tester 50/14 bill to keep the beef industry from becoming as integrated as the hog industry is.
“I’ve had dozens of former hog producers tell me that if they had known that was the way it was going to go, they’d have made a fight out of it 22 years ago.”
Colorado cattleman and board member Shad Sullivan said, “I think it’s important that we remember what we’re fighting for. Number one, we’re fighting for our families and number two, we’re fighting for our communities.”
Sullivan said rural America is hurting because of incremental changes to policy and regulations that have eroded profitability for the producer. One of the biggest challenges for ranchers today is the struggle to maintain private property rights, he said, which is addressed in the Long Range Plan.
The Cattle Industry Long Range Plan includes strategies that promote profitability and prosperity for family-owned and family-operated cattle farms and ranches, and America’s rural communities they support. It also emphasizes the preservation and protection of cattle producers’ freedoms and liberties by ensuring they remain free to make their own production and marketing decisions based on their personal assessments of competitive forces in the marketplace, said the R-CALF USA news release.
“The beef industry, which is dominated by highly concentrated beef packers, has been driving the direction of the U.S. cattle industry for decades, and as demonstrated by current market conditions, the outcome has not been favorable for U.S. cattle producers. Our plan elevates the cattle producer’s role in shaping a better future for our industry,” said R-CALF USA Board President, Gerald Schreiber.
“Nearly everyone I talk to asks who’s going to fix our depressed cattle markets, and we’ve come to the realization that no one outside the cattle industry has any inclination to do so,” said Region III Director Brett Kenzy who added, “That means it’s up to us and that’s why we’ve stepped up to develop a realistic plan to create a more profitable future for independent U.S. cattle producers.”
“We are the supply chain to the nation’s beef industry and our cattle and calves represent the largest single commodity in U.S. agriculture. When U.S. cattle producers begin rallying around this new long-range plan, there’s no question that we can substantially improve their profitability,” said Region I Director George Wishon.
“It’s very important, if you agree with this document, to contact your state, national and local political representatives,” said Kenzy. “This document lays out in a very clear order what we need to return prosperity to rural America.”
With momentum growing behind the national campaign for a Beef Checkoff Referendum, the committee’s plans required an injection of funding. Quick action and mobilization resulted in an extremely successful rollover auction fundraiser held at Ft Pierre Livestock on December 12, 2020.
Vaughn Meyer of Reva, South Dakota and Kenzy Backgrounding of Gregory, South Dakota, graciously donated a market ready steer. US Processors (Ft Pierre) added to the value by donating the processing. With only 9 days to prepare via email and conference call correspondence, the national committee went back to their home states and regions to pull in tens of thousands of dollars from California to Kentucky and North Dakota to Texas.
National committee director Karina Jones explains, “We went into Ft. Pierre Livestock that day knowing that we had around 60 individual donations from all over the country. But what happened in that auction barn, that day was something I wasn’t prepared for.” It was a full house at Ft. Pierre Livestock with buyers in the seats for a scheduled bred cow sale that went well into the night. Bryan Hansen, owner of Ft. Pierre Livestock, hosted the rollover fundraiser and from the block he energized the crowd and their support came in a rapid fire bidding situation. Jones witnessed, “The bids just kept coming out of the crowd. The phone on the block kept ringing with more bids. Then Bryan was taking bids off the computer that were coming through CattleUSA! You just never knew where the next bid was going to come from. It was an electric atmosphere for sure!”
Vaughn Meyer, R-CALF Checkoff Committee Chairman, posted on social media, “I wish everyone could have been present in Ft. Pierre last Saturday to witness the energy in that crowd who opened their wallets and generously contributed to the fight to manage their own industry and remain in business. Yes, we had many commitments, but the drive erupted when the producers present joined in, sending a resounding message of ’we too want a referendum vote for the first time in 35 years.’ Producers, who sent a loud and clear message that they intend to preserve their rights to not only vote but to advertise their product,” USA BEEF”.
As the dust has settled and the totals have been tallied, over $41,000 was raised for this effort with over 130 bids coming out of 16 states. This money will be used to fund national mailing campaigns to producers, as well as increased advertising to educate about the campaign.
“More than the incredible amount of money raised, in a short amount of time, this fund-raising effort was an absolute affirmation to me that there is swelling national support for this issue! It has been 35 years since the cattle industry has been allowed the opportunity to vote. The industry has made it loud and clear, we are ready to bring it back to a vote,” say Jones.
For more information and to sign or print the petition, please visit http://www.checkoffvote.com. If you wish to contribute to the Checkoff Petition Campaign fund, please contact Karina Jones at (308) 760-3466 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Economist Dr. Robert Taylor’s April, 2022, cattle report, Harvested Cattle, Slaughtered Markets, offers some unique solutions to the buyer power that many believe is depressing live cattle prices.
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