A Few Thoughts by John Nalivka – Activists, corporate policy, and regulations
July 17, 2018
Lower taxes, reduced regulatory burden, fewer bureaucratic decisions that impact your business, and yes, even a pardon for Dwight and Steve Hammond. It's all good and the industry is on the right path – thanks to President Trump. And, yes I do believe a favorable outcome on trade will be added to that list. I should add the markets have generally performed much more favorably than earlier anticipated with support from both U.S. and export demand.
But, there is a storm brewing and even if it is several years into the future, it is one that needs to be seriously considered. Everyone has probably read or heard about WeWork Companies making the announcement last week that they will no longer pay for any red meat, poultry, or pork at their events. In their corporate memo, Miguel McKelvey, the company's co-founder, said "new research indicates that avoiding meat is one the biggest things an individual can do to reduce their personal environmental impact," – "even more than a hybrid car." That is an extreme statement! The problem is the people who don't think it is extreme and even more so, the people who subscribe to that thinking and will not listen to, much less consider, the science, as most of us do. I guess they do consider science – just not the same science that forms our decision-making. Yes, I know that the tendency is find the facts that support your conclusions.
I become concerned when I read more than one article in a week that have a similar theme. Bloomberg's article concerning WeWork was on July 13th. A few days before that, Livekindly, a vegan site published an article about Virgin Atlantic's decision to remove ingredients from its in-flight menus that are "deemed unsustainable such as beef, palm oil, and soy." This is the result of the company's 2017 Sustainability Report. Well, there's a familiar word! You do know there are many Sustainability Reports floating around for different industries and I can't help but suspect that they all reference different scientific views – see the previous paragraph. At least Virgin Atlantic admits the planes they fly are a large source of carbon emissions and they are reducing their carbon footprint in any way they can – "reducing beef consumption – the biggest culprit!" Really?!
And last but not least, a mention of Impossible Foods is noteworthy. In their commitment to saving the planet, they created the plant-based Impossible Burger along with a plan to "eliminate all animals from food production by 2035." If all goes according to plan, I will still be around then eating steaks and hamburgers from "real beef."
While I strayed a bit, my point is serious. I have described corporate policies. The beef industry will have a significant problem if these corporate policies become government regulations. The current economic environment is pretty good for the beef industry from nearly every perspective, but 17 years from now when you want to be passing on your cattle ranch to your kids, Impossible Foods may have made that impossible.