This week, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) led a letter with the support of 37 affiliate state cattle organizations, urging the leadership of the U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committees to address critical areas of concern in the cattle and beef industry.
Specifically, NCBA pushed Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., Georgia Rep. David Scott, and Penn. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson to consider swift Congressional action to:
- Expand beef processing capacity
- Broaden labor policies to strengthen the beef processing workforce
- Increase transparency in cattle markets by reauthorizing Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR)
- Support industry efforts to reform “Product of the USA” generic labeling
- Ensure proper oversight of cattle market players by concluding the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the meatpacking sector
The grassroots letter comes as cattle producers across the country express mounting frustration at the persistent imbalance in the markets. As much of the country lifts pandemic restrictions, consumer demand for U.S. beef remains strong. Producers also have a high supply of cattle to meet demand.
Despite this, NCBA said producers in the cow-calf and feeder sectors of the industry are facing significant challenges. The profits yielded by high boxed beef prices are not being passed on to the producers supplying live cattle, and the supply chain is being choked by a lack of processing capacity, the organization said.
“Cattle producers are frustrated, and with good reason. In sale barns and state meetings across the country, we’re hearing the same story of sky-high input costs and intense market volatility. Across the industry, there’s a consensus that market dynamics which consistently squash producer profitability are not sustainable for live cattle or beef producers,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “As members of Congress create policy that directly impacts business conditions for our producers, it is critical that they consider the grassroots input and firsthand experiences of folks on the ground.”
The letter, Bohn said, provides that perspective and reinforces how urgently something is needed to shift in order to strengthen the security of the beef supply chain.
“NCBA has strong working relationships with members on both sides of the aisle, we have grassroots policy to back the actions we outlined today, and we hope the conversation in Washington around these critical policy areas will progress quickly.”
The letter is the latest move in NCBA’s longstanding efforts to secure greater processing capacity, increase transparency, fight for the future viability of family farms and ranches, and increase opportunities for producer profitability.
NCBA’s letter was signed by 37 affiliate state cattlemen’s associations.
“For more than a year, Arkansas’ cattle producers have withstood some of the toughest times the cattle industry has faced in recent memory; it is time for real solutions. This letter to Congressional leadership outlines real, producer driven solutions that can make meaningful changes within our industry, not just inconsequential rhetoric,” said Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association (ACA) Executive Vice President Cody Burkham. “During these times, it is imperative our elected leaders have a clear and concise understanding of the challenges impacting the cattle industry. I commend the work of NCBA leadership and staff for their work on these issues, including this letter. The ACA will continue to work with our state and national partners toward meaningful reforms that benefit all cattle producers across the nation.”
Georgia Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Dale Sandlin commented: “The Georgia Cattlemen’s Association is appreciative of the support that our Congressional leaders have shown through the allocation of CARES Act payments for cattle producers over the past year due to the uncertainties and challenges our industry faced due to COVID-19 and significant market volatility. While this relief has been critical over the past year, we still have concerns about the prices our members are receiving for the high-quality beef they produce compared to the significantly higher prices that packers are enjoying. As an industry, cattle producers have resisted a legislative solution to the challenges of market forces, however the industry cannot survive if the current disparity is left unchecked. We appreciate the ability to work with NCBA and other affiliates to find an approach that works for the benefit of the entire industry.”