Time to mount up
July 7, 2008
When the smell of burning grass drifts in what does a rancher do? Dumb question. He knows instinctively what to do. In minutes the word is spread and a force of volunteers and equipment is on the move to head off a disaster.
After the fire is out and the fire fighters gather to take stock of the damage, they find their group included cattle buyers, auction market owners, bankers, truckers and even housewives. When the non-ranchers are asked why they were there the answer in unison would be, “because we’re stakeholders.”
There is another smell moving in over the livestock industry and it deserves the same attention given the smell of burning grass. It’s time to mount up.
If you say you don’t smell anything, sniff again. The smell in South Dakota intensified back when Governor Rounds fired four of the five Brand Board members on the strength of a so called investigative report on brand inspection. No charges were ever filed yet the report was made public. How often have you seen an investigative report publicized before charges are filed? This action took place some time after the South Dakota Stockgrowers dropped their affiliation with the NCBA and joined the R-CALF alliance. Coincidence? You decide. (I never did figure out why the Governor didn’t fire all five Brand Board members.)
There are lots of dots that might be connected and if they were it might lead one to believe that what is happening to the brand inspection program is part of a long term goal. Some of the dots – Animal ID, Premises Registration, Beef Check-Off – all rooted in federal and state agencies that deliver the influence of business interests that benefit through the mechanism of government.
To make sure you know what is happening to brand inspection – in case you weren’t aware – the brand inspection program is being converted to a government program to be managed from Pierre. This is being done on the basis of selectively extracted recommendations from a consultant report. The premise is that the “state” can run the program at the same cost and achieve greater efficiency and more effective law enforcement results. Producers pay the costs now and producers will pay the costs later.
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Stakeholders, the tools you have to deal with this “smell” exist because we live in a democracy. The tools are useless unless you pick them up and use them. It’s yours to decide – it’s your line in the sand to draw – it’s your backfire to light!