I am from Timber Lake, SD, and a third-generation rancher. My parents and brother, along with his family, and myself and my family, run the Gill Red Angus ranch with a herd of cows and a feedlot.
This is a testing time for America, but I want to bring some attention to our industry, specifically the agriculture markets. They have been bad for several years and are now absolutely terrible. I put together some thoughts, and I ask you to please take the time to read it, and if you feel as strongly about it as I do, then call your senators and representatives.
I remember back in 2014 when the cattle markets were good. The so-called experts were screaming that we needed to cheapen up the cattle so the grocery store prices could be affordable for the consumer. Since then the feeder calf prices have been cut in half, but yet the grocery store prices are still the same or higher! The demand is obviously better, but yet the ranchers and feeders are getting the shaft.
Here are five things that I feel need corrected.
First, I strongly believe the U.S. needs to stop importing all agriculture food products that compete against American homegrown food products. The American producer will always rise to the occasion and make or produce what is needed. This will also keep us safe from unregulated imported food. If you don’t think we can produce enough to supply demand, just take a look at the U.S. oil industry and what they have been able to do.
Second, we need to correct the abuses and corruption of the CME board. There is too much change from day to day when nothing actually happens and/or the cattle numbers don’t change. For example, [at the time of writing in early April] the board was up nearly $3 and today it’s down the $4.5 limit. Why, the cattle numbers and the beef demand didn’t change while we were sleeping.
Third, I think we need to fix the Cattle on Feed reports put out by the USDA. We all know the numbers they release are not accurate. We see too much of a change between these releases. Which then makes the markets more volatile once again.
Fourth, we need to make a law that the fake meats, fake milks and anything else fake need to be labeled as such and not called burger, milk, sausage, or whatever else they call it. Take a look at what the fake milks have done the dairy industry over the last 10 years.
Fifth, there are laws that state a company cannot dominate an industry as it’s called a monopoly. The four big packers have monopolized the packing industry and process 80 percent of the beef in the U.S. They own these cattle for such a small period of time, and yet they are making over $600 per animal and they harvest around 30 million cattle every year!
Two of the four major packers are based in other countries. The demand for beef is high, as you have all seen what the price for beef is at the store. But since there isn’t any competition in this sector of the industry, the packers will not pay the feeder a fair price for the cattle they purchase every day. I feel they need to be broken up and the new ones need to follow the Packers and Stockyards Act. The laws are in place; they just need enforced!
This is a problem in all parts of agriculture, from the honey market to the dairy market to the protein markets.
If we learn anything at all from this COVID-19 virus, we cannot rely on countries to provide us with the necessary items we need to survive, and to me the No. 1 necessary item on everyone’s list is food.
Thanks for taking the time. If you feel we need change, please share this post, hopefully the right people will see it. Now call your senators and representatives!
A hungry country is a weak country!
Bryan Gill, Gill Red Angus, SD