R-CALF CEO: ‘We are independent’
July 27, 2017
Editor's note: this letter was written in response to Kendal Frazier's opnion piece "Unholy Alliances."
I don't recall ever meeting the NCBA's new CEO, Kendal Frazier. However, I just read his opinion piece "NCBA CEO: Unholy Alliances" published July 24, 2017 in Drovers. It was a sensational piece! Literally. For example, until reading his piece I did not know that America's largest producer-only cattle association, R-CALF USA, whose every member-policy is voted on by only the organization's thousands of cattle-owning ranchers, would have as its core policies "pushing cattle off the land, sliding beef off the plate and driving cattle producers off the ranch." This is absurd.
I've been the CEO of this largest producer-only cattle association for the past 17 years and we are as independent as they come. R-CALF USA has not made any alliance, nor is it aligned, with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). We also are not beholden to the government, to meatpackers, or to industry corporations as are many industry trade associations. We are unique in that our funding comes exclusively from voluntary membership dues and voluntary membership contributions.
Mr. Frazier states rather emphatically that R-CALF USA is an "activist" organization. I wonder if he gleaned this from our rather subtle member-developed slogan in which we proudly proclaim that we are "Fighting for the Independent U.S. Cattle Producer."
I think our track record indicates we are the most aggressive activist in the U.S. cattle industry: We filed an anti-dumping trade case to stop Canada from dumping live cattle in the U.S. market; we passed country-of-origin labeling (COOL) in Congress; we included a beef-price safeguard in the U.S.-Australian Free Trade Agreement; we blocked the meatpackers from prematurely reopening our border to Canadian live cattle for more than two years while Canada was still trying to fix its feed ban; we blocked the world's largest beef packer, Brazilian-owned JBS, from acquiring National Beef Packing Co.; we filed formal complaints to block JBS from expanding its monopolistic operations in the U.S.; we successfully defended COOL in our U.S. district court and U.S. appellate court against the lawsuit filed by the NCBA and the other meatpacking cartel members; we are the only association that called for the ongoing investigation into the 2015 cattle price collapse; we successfully blocked the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement that would have allowed the USA label to be placed on imported beef and beef derived from foreign cattle; we defended the constitutional rights of our members who were being compelled by the federal government to fund the private speech of private corporations; we filed a complaint calling for an investigation into JBS after the company admitted to bribing government officials; we filed a lawsuit exposing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) unlawful practice of allowing the removal of country-of-origin labels on imported beef.
Mr. Frazier also suggests that R-CALF USA is trying to "change the way we [the meatpacking cartel] do business." I wonder if he read our 8-point plan to reverse the decline of the U.S. cattle industry that we submitted to President Trump. The plan will fundamentally change the way our cattle markets are currently managed by a meatpacking cartel in which just four packers control 85 percent of the market (and the second-largest of those packers has admitted to engaging in criminal activity in its meatpacking business).
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R-CALF USA's 8-point plan is straightforward. It calls for reinstating mandatory COOL; enforcing U.S. antitrust laws, including promulgating rules to properly implement the Packers and Stockyards Act; eliminating the dominant packers' hoards of captive supply cattle; restoring the cattle futures market's purpose as a risk-management tool; blocking imports from countries with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD); rewriting the rule of origin in NAFTA; and, restoring the integrity of the beef checkoff program.
R-CALF USA members want to work with their neighbors to improve the cattle industry, regardless of their affiliations. We have found that some NCBA ranching-members support many of R-CALF USA's positions. They deserve to not be deceived by the unsubstantiated rantings of their leaders.
Mr. Frazier's letter uses false information to drive a wedge between R-CALF USA's ranching members and NCBA's ranching members. This deception is a terrible disservice to everyone who is working to defend the legacy of, and build a better future for, America's independent cattle farmers and ranchers.
R-CALF USA's members and their neighbors produce the best beef in the world under the very best of conditions, period. We want them to be rewarded for that in a marketplace free of monopsony market power. We will not be diverted from this critical goal.
So, no, I don't think I know Mr. Frazier. But, I'd sure like to debate him in a big public room full of real cattle-owning ranchers – not just packers in hats. He seems to have lots to say, much of which I know nothing about. This should make for a very interesting debate. Perhaps Drovers can make it happen."