R-CALF speaks to hundreds
In a string of meetings across the Dakotas, R-CALF USA’s Bill Bullard presented a snapshot of the last 30 years in the cattle industry to well over 500 cattlemen.
Local producers, and businesses sponsored meetings in Lemmon, South Dakota, Sept. 11; Mobridge, South Dakota, Sept. 12 and Mandan, North Dakota on Sept. 13. Over 100 people attended the Lemmon meeting, while both the Mobridge and Mandan meetings boasted more than 200 participants each.
Meeting goers took part in fundraisers at the last two meetings, contributing over $20,000 in Mobridge and over $10,000 in Mandan.
Pat Becker, Selfridge, North Dakota, helped organize those two meetings and he said he was pleased with the turnout of both current R-CALF USA members and those who were not members, but where there to learn more.
“R-CALF signed up a lot of new members – over 100 throughout the 3 days. People want to know more about this organization that wants to help them establish a better market for live cattle and feeder cattle. Ranchers appreciate that R-CALF isn’t satisified with the current market situation, they can see that too many producers have gone out of business and that with the continued trend of vertical integration, this will just get worse and worse if we as an industry don’t do something to stop it,” said the long-time R-CALF USA member.
Bullard shared slides with the group that helped show a number of trends within the livestock industry. One slide depicted the loss of over 200,000 cattle producers over the last 29 years. Another showed a similar decline in hog producers over the same time period – coupled with an increase in the total number of hogs in the country, which equates to more concentration and consolidation. Bullard presented USDA data that U.S. cattle numbers are down 7 million head since NAFTA, and that 75 percent of feedlot operations – nearly all of them being smaller feeders, have exited the business in the last 23 years.
Another slide showed the relationship of exports to the live cattle market (often an inverse relationship).
He then talked about country of origin labeling and showed the movement of the cattle market in relationship to the implementation and then the repeal of mandatory COOL. He then told about the group’s lawsuit that alleges packer collusion and misconduct. The class action suit was filed by four cattle feeder defendants but represents everyone who sold cattle to one of the big four packers from January 2015 until the present time.
Many producers asked questions at the meetings pertaining to the Tyson plant fire, the efforts of other organizations, USDA’s plan to require all sexually intact breeding cattle that cross state lines to be identified with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag.
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Outtagrass Cattle Co. cartoon by Jan Swan Wood for the June 19, 2021, edition of Tri-State Livestock News