CEO of the Beef Marketing Group, John Butler Discusses the Challenges for the Beef IndustryWed, 05 Feb 2020 11:48:06 CST
Cattle producers are gathering in San Antonio, from all across the country for the Cattle Industries annual convention and trade show.
Radio Oklahoma Farm Director Ron Hays is in San Antonio covering the event where he had the opportunity to visit with the CEO of the Beef Marketing Group, John Butler.
John Butler is a second-generation cattle producer who has spent his career building and implementing beef supply chain programs with the end in mind from the beginning. Butler says to be more efficient; he encourages producers to work backward, which may sound funny. Still, Butler explains, "You know, the thinking is that if we really understand where our product ends up, and understand the best we can, what the needs are, and the expectations. Things like tenderness, juiciness, and flavorfulness, and certainly safe and wholesome, then we can really apply that kind of knowledge to how we build the product in the first place. So, maybe the customer wants a specific breed, so then we plug that in, and maybe they want it to be a specific size, they don't want a great big ribeye, they want a more moderate one. Now that affects how we can buy the right kind of feeder cattle, feed them appropriately, and get to the end product, so that's what's meant by that.
When thinking about today's Cattle industry, Butler says he believes we could do better by being more transparent, "I'm a bit critical, because I think we could be a lot better if we better understood, and really were a little bit more transparent. I'll give you an example; The industry not only here domestically, but globally, has given us a strong signal that we need a traceability program. That we can identify where the cattle come from, all the way to their endpoint. We just have not adopted that. Now in the state of Kansas, I take my hat off to them; they started the traceability program in Kansas. They've collaborated with Texas and other states, and now there's real momentum. So that's why I give us a pretty good score, but it's taken us 20 years to get here. I just think that other proteins have been able to take advantage of that certainly in a global marketplace where we don't have a traceability system and other countries do."
Looking ahead in the next five years, Butler says we do have some challenges, "We have a number of challenges. I really believe that that we're going to be faced with a lot of pressure in the future and the next five years. Specifically, I believe that we, as a supply chain, need to be closer connected. The traceability issue that's one step. We've got things that are being done, that we can stand behind our product. That one might be started because of a disease situation, but that one can protect us from having disease outbreaks that we can't control like the African Swine Fever has in other countries. So, those are things that I think we've got to understand. We're going to have to get more connected to the end-user, whether it be retail, or food service, through the packer, or the feeder, or back to the rancher, that's going to allow us to be more competitive with our protein."
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear the complete interview with John Butler as he talks With Ron Hays.
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