Kenzy: What a Week in the Cattle Industry!
It was such a compliment that about 400 R-CALF USA members and trade show sponsors traveled from far and wide to attend the 23rd annual R-CALF USA convention held last week in Deadwood, S. Dak. We truly appreciate hosting producer-members from across the nation. Our organization is made up of solid Americans who take it upon themselves to strengthen the cattle industry now and for future generations.
R-CALF USA members and convention speakers from both sides of the political aisle gathered in Deadwood to find common ground in cattle and beef industry issues, with the goal of restoring rural prosperity, protecting freedom, and ensuring domestic food security.
Another compliment was the convention participation by U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux, and USDA Senior Advisor for Fair and Competitive Markets Andy Green. Ducheneaux and Green attended the entire convention and visited with salt-of-the-earth cattle producers at length. Their personal engagement with grassroots members was, perhaps, one of the highlights of the convention.
It was not only a pleasant surprise but also an honor to have Harriet Hageman present in person, shortly after winning her Wyoming primary to become her state’s Republican candidate for Congress. Harriet represented our organization in our successful case that blocked the USDA’s radio frequency identification (RFID) eartag mandate. On the heels of her primary win, her attendance was an honor as she shared with members her election update and gave a real American pep talk, regarding the Constitution and how to fight administrative overreach.
U.S. Senator Mike Rounds updated the crowd on efforts his staff and others are making to progress the American Beef Labeling Act S.2716 into law. Senator Rounds is a great example to our lawmakers that they do not need to sit on the Senate agriculture committee to help on agriculture issues impacting their state.
R-CALF USA had a well-balanced array of presenters with great communication flowing between them and our members. Presenters and members in attendance all remember the market crash of 2015, the Holcomb fire, and the empty beef shelves following the COVID pandemic. R-CALF USA is truly thankful for the members, speakers, sponsors and staff who assembled the best convention yet. The highly successful 2022 convention was designed both to educate and invigorate.
The convention was broadcast live over CattleUSA (thanks!). However, the highlight of the gathering was the membership, the accessibility of the speakers and the energy in the room. Multiple sponsors commented on the genuine and kind nature of the convention crowd. Again, a compliment.
On another note, while the R-CALF USA convention was rolling along, a few industry op-eds signaled an effort was underway to water down the necessity to face the “wedge issues” of our industry. While we discussed mandatory country of origin labeling (MCOOL) for beef and the road to Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement, others seem intent to run the game out by working from the bottom of the list up rather than the top of the list down. It is important to realize that as we sell calves and feeder cattle into a higher market, nothing has yet been accomplished to remove the levers of power from the concentrated packing industry that harms rural America and the people we feed. Prices have always gone up and down. Today, I would challenge all to view industry issues in terms of the undue power exercised by the concentrated packing industry and its cooperators. I am committed to do everything I can to ensure the cattlemen who buy my feeder cattle have every opportunity to sell into a market that rewards the merits of American production rather than compliance with the status quo.
If our industry is considered a family, I would think it essential to our family’s long-term health to face our “wedge issues.” A new approach is necessary. After a generation of continual industry contraction, it is time for a public and professional “family intervention” of the cattle industry rather than to allow one dominant beef industry trade group and its cooperators to make the decisions for us.
In summation, history is waiting to see if America, as it was intended, rises and thrives or goes forward in name only. Time passes quickly, we must start at the top of the list of issues and work down.
I know where I stand. How about you?
Join us. Or join the organization that represents you. If you are a part of the silent majority, you hold our combined future in your hands. The greatness of America was never achieved by accepting the least common denominator.
Brett Kenzy is the President of R-CALF USA, the nation’s largest non-profit trade association exclusively representing the U.S. cattle industry.
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