National R-Calf USA convention hosted in Deadwood

DEADWOOD, S.D. — The Lodge at Deadwood hosted the R-Calf USA national convention.

R-Calf is the largest producer only membership organization exclusively representing U.S. cattle and sheep producers on domestic and international trade and marketing issues. The focus of the convention was legislation that would affect meat producers and consumers alike, and Thursday’s session focused heavily on RFID tracking and the beef checkoff.

RFID tags are a tracking system that use smart bar codes to identify items, and RFID ear tags are now being required by the USDA by January 21, 2023. Meat producers agree the metal tags currently used are more than efficient, and are collectively against the use of RFID tags.

“There’s no reason to use the RFID, it’s more expensive,” said the chairman of the animal identification committee, Kenny Fox. “They require us to register our property with the government. We don’t feel we need to do that, and it’s an infringement upon our property rights. I’m a third generation cattle rancher. My family’s been cattle ranching in South Dakota since 1917. And we know how to do this thing, and we’ve done it with little government interference, and we choose to remain independent.”

The beef checkoff, was created by producers as a self-help tool to improve beef demand for american cattle, but according to ranchers it has become generic and a disservice to american ranchers.

“I am a believer in the idea of a checkoff, but I don’t believe that the checkoff is functioning for the producer right now, and I believe the only way that we will get to a better checkoff is to get rid of this checkoff and start over again,” said Region 3 Director of R-Calf, Brett Kenzy.

The convention also touched on the topics of COVID and it’s affect on the meat industry. 

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