Speakers from the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming (ICOW) meeting | TSLN.com

Speakers from the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming (ICOW) meeting

Tiffany Schwenke and ICOW media relations
for Tri-State Livestock News
Judy McCullough, Mark and Rose Bebo enjoy the ICOW meeting. Photo courtesy ICOW

Speaker Jolene Brown

Jolene Brown was warmly received at the ICOW annual meeting held in Casper. Mrs. Brown walks the walk and talks the talk to farmers and ranchers because she is one of them. Jolene wittily poked fun at many rancher’s sacrosanct ideas of generational ranching, while providing tools on how to fix complex, seemingly hopeless situations. She explained how acceptance into the family is unconditional, while acceptance into the family business just because you are blood related, is not. By answering several questions such as “is this a Family-First Business or a Business-First Family?” or “Do the existing owners really want the integrity of the business to continue?”, ranch families can look at the fundamental roles, paths, and possible future outcomes of their family operations. Surprisingly, in-laws play a much more essential role in generational ranching, than other family members may willingly acknowledge. Every role was examined from initial generation to the latest generation. Conflict resolution, business meetings, code of conduct and prerequisites for ownership in a family business were just some of the topics covered that create mistakes that break up the family business. Jolene asked everyone to read the following: OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE. Upon reflection, a person realizes there are several ways to read and interpret that. How you decide to accept it, is how your outcome will be shaped.

Rep Art Washut, Rep Chuck Gray

Two Natrona County Representatives provided some useful tools to ICOW members at the November 8-9 meeting in Casper. Rep. Art Washut urged voters to make personal contact with their legislators so when the session convenes, legislators already have a connection to the person contacting them. He noted sometimes legislators are shoulder to shoulder on a bill, but the next day they might be toe to toe, depending on the current bill. Wyoming legislators are often swamped by out of state emails, so the best way to get your email read is to include your name, county where you live, and the bill # you are referring to. If your bill of interest is going to be presented shortly, the email could get read prior to them having to filter through the rest of their list. If your particular bill is not up immediately, it will give them time to research it a little more before the legislative reading. Rep. Chuck Gray explained the basics (as much as possible, in a short amount of time) of the state budget bill. He showed how the “balance” is achieved through various accounts. He informed the group of the process they go through in reading and passing the budget. Both Rep. Washut and Rep Gray are eager to support agriculture and are open to learning the areas they are not familiar with in order to make the best possible decisions when it comes time to vote.

R-CALF USA CEO, Bill Bullard, and Director of Development, Tatum Lee

Bullard and Lee made many points:

In order to fix the market, Anti-trust laws must be enforced, Bullard said. We must begin to aggressively enforce antitrust laws before we reach the point where there is no longer any meaningful competition to preserve.

To provide producers the ability to compete in a global market against growing numbers of imports, a full restoration of mandatory country of origin labeling is needed, he said.

R-CALF USA believes that the mandatory beef checkoff forces all producers to finance organizations that may support policies that may harm profitability for cattle producers.

The organization’s new strategy is being carried out in the judicial branch.

In 2016 R-CALF USA filed suit v. USDA. The suit states that it is unconstitutional to compel producers to fund private speech that: promotes notion that beef is beef regardless of where or how produced. Also against USDA supplying funds to third parties unaccountable to the government.

In 2019 R-CALF USA filed suit v. USDA stating that it is unlawful for USDA to mandate RFID beginning Jan. 1, 2023, as they had posted on their website. Since R-CALF has filed suit the notice on USDA website has been removed and USDA has said it is not on track to implement RFID at this time.

Also in 2019: R-CALF USA filed suit v. Tyson et al. This is a historic class action lawsuit alleging the “big 4 packers” conspired to artificially depress prices paid to U.S. cattle producer.

The claim is on the behalf of fed cattle producers: all persons within the U.S. who directly sold to a defendant one or more fed cattle during the class period (January 2015 –present). Also, Exchange Traders: All persons who transacted live cattle futures or options contracts on the CME during the class period (January 2015 – present).

The Claim is that defendants worked together to depress fed cattle prices from 2015 onwards. Collusion encompassed five key elements: Periodic slaughter reductions; Reduction in cash cattle purchases during periods of slaughter restraint; coordination of defendants’ cash cattle procurement; importation of foreign live cattle at a loss; shuttering slaughter capacity; depression of fed cattle prices impacted cattle futures/options.

According to Bullard, one solution is to bring back mandatory country of origin labeling (COOL) to stop the beef packing cartel from undercutting America’s ranchers with cheap imports. Also, give America’s ranchers their markets back by breaking up the beef packing cartel or by imposing strict rules-of-competition to stop their unfair, monopolistic cattle-buying practices.

We need to renegotiate more balanced trade agreements so America’s ranchers are no longer forced to absorb other countries’ overproduction nor risk importing other countries’ cattle diseases.

U.S. producers do not necessarily benefit from increased exports, such as if packers source the beef exported to the new market from imported cattle or imported beef. Also, not if the packers leverage their market dominance to capture the share received from increased sales that a competitive market should allocate to producers.

Also, he said producers should not be forced to support the beef packing cartel through the government-mandated beef checkoff program.