Outstanding column (“Markets in Panic Mode” from the Sept. 2 issue)! Basic market dynamics are very boring apparently, and many of our compatriots whip their conspiracy ponies into a dead run when faced with a major market disruption. It amazes me that normally steady, clear-thinking ranchers who would jump at the chance to buy slightly rained-on alfalfa at a discount or a dented F-350 on the cheap, feel that a packer or retailer who makes a move to cut his costs or bolster his position is somehow evil, rotten, or worst of all, a colluder!
Now, I don’t want the job of dismantling those fat cattle in an efficient manner. I’m a cow-calf guy and wouldn’t have the nerve or patience it takes to deal with the labor, regulatory, and mechanical challenges that modern packing plants deal with. I feel like I’m the first (and most important) link in a chain.
But we were in a tough market before the Tyson fire, and we knew all along it was going to be tough with lots of cattle coming this fall. We also knew we needed to stay ahead of the wave by keeping slaughter numbers high. When faced with this disaster, why doesn’t the industry pull together and work through it instead of immediately looking for villains? Never mind, I forgot that for all their strengths, some modern cattlemen can shoot themselves in the foot while blaming someone else for a market that reacts to many factors that are unpredictable. It is huge, complex, and very dynamic. Oh, and then there’s trade … Thanks for the WLJ. You keep it real. — Dick Coon, Washington rancher