(RE: Pete’s comments “Get over it” in the April 22 issue of WLJ) Every cowboy should be demanding to raise the Beef Checkoff from the ancient dollar to $5 or $10. Here is the reason we need a whole lot more money: to defend beef, and cattle raisers should be wanting more money to defend the industry. We are not cattle raisers; we are beef producers and in the meat business.
On the top rung of the beef ladder is the consumer who pays cash to eat our product. The consumer’s hard-earned money supports the whole beef (meat) industry from the retailer the top rung of the ladder to the cow-calf man on the bottom rung of the meat ladder. The part of the industry in between the top rung and bottom rung are all middle men. I won’t name them all but the most obvious are the feedlot and packer. The chain goes from a baby calf to beef for the consumer’s table. Every middle man is a margin operator. He adds value to beef and passes the product on to the next rung in the ladder. The middle man doesn’t care if beef sells at a high or low price because he is only a margin operator.
Fake meat is not going away. If science can put a man on the moon, they can make fake meat. Many of the industries in the middle can easily switch to fake meat. Even now some packers have shown interest. If it tastes good and it is cheaper than our beef, we will lose our customer. I hope it is not too late to defend the real product. We need a lot of money now to defend our industry.
There is another black cloud on the horizon with the environmentalists. They do not like cows. We need to do more to establish good public relations and education for the consumer.
Here is my solution. Start over with a whole new method of collecting a checkoff. Every bovine animal will eventually go to slaughter. This can be simple—the processor will pay a percent of the purchased value of that animal. With this plan only a few people will be collecting the money and every animal will pay. At 1/16 of a percent, a $200 veal calf will pay $1.25 and a $1,500 finished steer will pay $9.38. These are only examples. It would be simple to change these numbers up or down. The packer can be reimbursed for his time and trouble to do all the collecting. Imports would pay a percent of their value.
This is a radical change, but it can be done if the whole industry would get behind it.
Jerry Meyring, DVM, Nebraska