Vet’s Voice: Keep your chin up
Wow, the holiday season is moving by rapidly and I’m getting worn out. The snow has turned to mud and I’d much rather move and shovel snow than navigate the mud. Here in the south east corner of the state we are hoping for a frost. The “Bohemian Concrete” will make it much easier for us and really help our livestock. I’m still hoping for a “white Christmas,’ but now will be satisfied with a “mudless Christmas.”
The cattle market has been in the dumper for the last few months. We were positive initially that this was merely a small decrease in the market, and initially this was true. We have now endured a slide of $40 per hundred on fats and in some instances calf prices at nearly half the value of last year. This is enough to take the wind out of anyone’s sails, but hopefully we can end 2015 and move into 2016 with a positive attitude.
For me and most cattle producers I know we don’t do it for the money. There are lots of other things we could do to generate more income. We enjoy our lifestyle and our cattle. Goals other than dollars can be attained to add satisfaction to our lives. We just need enough money to allow our operations to move forward. We’ve seen tough times before and we have had the fortitude to work through them. We will survive.
I’ve heard questions, excuses and reasons for our problems:
· Exports are down
o What are our check off dollars doing?
· Imports are up
o Where is the USDA and NCBA?
· Slaughter weights are up
o Sadly with low grain prices it can still be economical to add weight
· Our product is still priced high at the retail level
o Meat is contracted into stores and they need to work through their inventory before lowering price. This is true to some extent but there still may be some profit taking because stores know consumers choose BEEF and will pay for it.
· Pork and chicken an inexpensive.
o These sources are much easier to produce and are vertically integrated. The prices may be what they deserve
· Country of origin Labeling
o For years we have been told we should set our product apart from others. We have accomplished that and now we are the reason for market crash. So far the only thing I have seen product clearly labeled is Canadian bacon.
I am sure there are many other scenarios for problems, but we believe the great price increases were the result of a perfect storm. Now we have a group of negative scenarios lowering the marked in another perfect storm.
The beef industry is still strong and we are strong people. If we remain positive we will again move through these problems. We need to take a more active role in the promotion of our product. Your personal advocacy for the beef production industry and the lifestyle we enjoy will help the consumer, who has no idea of the pleasure of our lives. If they did, they would dream of being here. Beef is an excellent gift for our city friends. Beef Bucks are accepted by both meat retailers and restaurants. Shipping is easy because all you have to do is slide them into your Christmas cards.
You are the future of the cattle industry. Remain positive and promote yourself, your ranch, your state, and your product. I realize many of you think this is hot air, but it can be ‘Hot air’ putting the wind back in our sails. I have seen many marketing problems, but we have overcome all of them and they have made us more efficient and increased the use of technology. I sincerely wish you all a very merry Christmas and prosperous 2016. It is in your control!