It’s not the farmer, it’s greed
To the editor:
The past few weeks have been nothing but stressful and trying for most of us, but being a farmer and a cattleman, they have been aggravating, irritating and outright difficult trying to explain to consumers why the price of beef has skyrocketed beyond many household budgets.
The dollar disconnect comes at the packer level. These are the companies that purchase finished cattle from feedlots and process it into the cuts and grounds consumers purchase for their meals. These cuts are then sold to the grocery stores to be resold at retail. The beef sold to retail outlets is referred to as box beef.
On March 23, box beef prices reached a 77 percent increase for the year while cash fat cattle crashed to a low of $1.06 cwt. During a two-week period, packer profits were $400/hd higher than their normal profit projections, at the same time cattle ranchers and farmers were losing between $200 and $350 a head.
It’s called a Meat Monopoly — four multinational meat packers control more than 75 percent of the beef business in the United States. Quarterly profits from JBS were just released and net income surged 332 percent at the same time feed yards are struggling to make ends meet. But here’s the kicker, just because your package has the USDA stamp does not mean it’s a product of the United States. In fact, the four major packers can bring beef in from other countries, unpack it, repack it and slap a USDA — USA label on it.
As a regional director for R-Calf USA, I have spent many nights on conference calls with the national and state affiliates discussing the direction cattlemen in this country must take. The No. 1 item that benefits consumers and cattlemen is the reinstatement of Mandatory Country of Origination Labeling or M-COOL. This simple piece of legislation would give consumers peace of mind knowing their beef was born, bred and harvested in the USA, while at the same time giving struggling cattlemen a fair chance to compete in the market place.
At this time we ask all consumers and cattlemen to call, write or e-mail their two senators and representatives requesting that they support M-COOL legislation that has been forwarded to them by our members and organization. But in the meantime we have set up a website for you to locate locally born, raised and harvested beef in your area at USABeef.org
Also this past week, our state affiliate Buckeye Quality Beef Association Inc. has sent a letter to the Ohio Attorney General David Yost requesting an investigation into the price gouging of consumers on the price of beef.
Our mission is to give cattlemen in this country the ability to compete on a level playing field simply by differentiating USA beef from foreign imports. But rest assured, our No. 1 goal is to provide consumers a safe, delicious and nutritious product born, raised and harvested in the USA.
Regional director R-Calf USA