Making moves in the cattle industry through unity
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The “Need for Unity in the Cattle Industry” was held in the Barnett Fieldhouse to create a discussion forum for of ranchers, organizations, and government representatives. Cattle ranchers make up a small portion of the American population, but have an immense impact on the agriculture industry and economy.
“Of all the people in the United States, less than 2% are Ag producers, so when we have groups in the cattle industry that don’t work together, when we’re a small fragment anyway, it’s tough to get things done,” explains Justin Tupper, Vice President of the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association.
Everyone has similar goals, but their methods for achieving them are all different.
“It’s an industry that we love, we love that lifestyle, we all like cows, we want to preserve that way of life, and be able to pass it on to the next generation if they so desire,” says Larry Stomprud with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.
Right now, the main concern is the distribution of profits down the production chain, with very little reaching those who raised the cattle.
Karina Jones, Field Director of R-CALF USA chimed in saying, “I think it’s not too much to ask to make sure that our cattle producers are at least making a living wage, and so addressing packer concentration and antitrust issues that we allege are happening in the packer industry also would help increase profitability down the market chain to our cattle producers.”
There are more steps to meat distribution than meet the eye, so leaders in the cattle industry hope to see legislation that better distributes the profits to sustain production.
“Especially in the beef industry being so segmented with a cow-calf producer, a feeder, a backgrounder, the packer, the retailer, and all those guys have to make a little bit of money, and that’s a good thing,” says James Halverson, Executive Director of South Dakota Stockgrowers Association. “But with the consolidation in the meat-packing industry, we feel like they’ve taken a lot of those profits out of the rest of the segments of the industry and that’s really what the crux of the matter is and what it comes down to trying to solve.”
Groups say the first step towards a solution is fighting the problem, not ranch by ranch, but united together.