Oklahoma Cattleman a Part of Historic Meeting Looking for Solutions to Disfunctional Cattle MarketMon, 17 May 2021 16:32:06 EDT
One week ago, a meeting that was supposed to be secret was held in Phoenix- organized by the Livestock Marketing Association- who asked cattle producer leaders of the major cattle industry groups to meet and discuss the problems surrounding the cattle market- especially the disconnect between current cash cattle prices and wholesale beef prices that the four national beef packers are receiving. There were no staff in the meeting and only four members per organization were allowed into the meeting. One Oklahoma rancher was a part of the closed door session- Scott Blubaugh, President of AFR/OFU and a cattle producer in Kay County. Blubaugh was one of the representatives for the National Farmers Union.
On Monday afternoon, May 17th- the groups lifted the embargo on information coming from the groups and released a statement of what was accomplished. At the same time- members were then allowed to talk to members of the media- and Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays spent time on the telephone with Blubaugh. You can hear the full conversation that they had by clicking on the LISTEN BAR below.
Of the meeting- Scott Blubaugh told Hays "Going into the meeting, I was not very optimistic knowing the history of all the groups and the different personalities of those groups- I wasn't very optimistic that we could come away with an agreement. But once we sat down at the table and started talking about the problems - it was quite clear that everyone recognized the problems and could agree on some things." He adds that Congress was been telling the cattle industry for some time that if you will come to us united- we will help you get those things done. He hopes that these "solutions" that the groups agreed to consider as "take action" within their respective groups and to press the Administration and Congress to adopt and implement all three action items (as described below)
Of the list of probelms and possible solutions that are detailed in the joint statement- Blubaugh said that the six problems that were identified were agreed to by every cattle producer in the room- anyone could object and that issue was taken off the table. The same was true of the solutions that were identified.
The following is the statement that was been released by the groups jointly:
On Monday, May 10, 2021, member leaders of American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Farmers Union, R-CALF USA, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association met in Phoenix, Arizona.
These groups convened at the request of the Livestock Marketing Association to discuss challenges involved in the marketing of finished cattle with the ultimate goal of bringing about a more financially sustainable situation for cattle feeders and cow-calf producers.
The group talked openly and candidly about a wide range of important issues facing our industry today, including but not limited to:
• Packer concentration,
• Price transparency and discovery,
• Packer oversight,
• Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement,
• Level of captive supply, and
• Packer capacity.
The group also agreed to take to their respective organizations for consideration these action items:
• Expedite the renewal of USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR), including formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library.
• Demand the Department of Justice (DOJ) issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward.
• Encourage investment in, and development of, new independent, local, and regional packers.
This unprecedented meeting brought together diverse producer organizations to identify issues and discuss potential solutions. These issues and action item lists are not comprehensive, due to time constraints of this meeting. Attending organization representatives were pleased to have reached consensus on many issues and are committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a fair and transparent finished cattle marketing system.
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