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Johnston: Fighting for our Industry

Mackenzie Johnston
Milburn, Nebraska

During the week of Feb. 29, the Tri-State Livestock News published a guest editorial I had written titled “Bogus Brazilian Beef.” This article highlighted the implications these beef imports will have on American cattle producers and the threat of Foot and Mouth Disease. Bringing in more imports to an already depressed market is worrisome, and then on top of that, these imports are coming from a country infected with Foot and Mouth Disease. The introduction of FMD into our cowherd will cause unimaginable economic damage.

On March 23 after working for Nebraska Cattlemen as a field rep for six years, I received a three-minute phone call that immediately terminated me. Grounds for firing me were based on the guest editorial featured in the Tri-State weeks before. I was told the article did not align with Nebraska Cattlemen or NCBA.

Both organizations claim to represent all segments of the industry, but if that is true, why would such an article be grounds for immediate termination? Shouldn’t the independent producer receive equal parts representation? Or should we follow the money trail to find our answer?

We’re at a crossroads with our industry and if we don’t turn this runaway train around, we’ll end up just like the vertically integrated chicken and hog industries. Packers are making record profit margins, while gouging consumers and manipulating the markets for cattle producers.


Coming from a long line of ranchers, I’m not about to sit back and watch our industry slip away. I encourage everyone to take a good look at the cattlemen’s organization you belong to. Make sure your membership dollars are fighting for our industry, not for the packers, not for the vertical integration that is knocking at our door.

I encourage everyone to take a good look at the cattlemen’s organization you belong to. Make sure your membership dollars are fighting for our industry, not for the packers, not for the vertical integration that is knocking at our door.




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