Speeking with one voice - Part 1

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Well-known member
Dec 30, 2003
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Louisiana Native in South Central Wisconsin, USA
There is a great deal of suggestion that the beef industry should "speek with one voice". Here are my thoughts on this subject. When the National Cattleman's Association (NCA) reorganized to form the National Cattleman's Beef Association (NCBA), new segments were introduced to the association, mainly the Packer and Distribtors. This introduced new realities to the industry. The Packers were and are a very strong part of the puzzle. They have merged and have become even stronger. They are now the second most powerful lobby in Washington. This is something that a small producer should and, I feel, does fear. The effects of this lobby can lean all concerns in the favor of the packers. There is already enough belief that they don't give the producers a fair chance. Even using the industry grids and other tools available to producers, the producers still don't believe the packers are truly partners. And I must say, I agree.

Along time ago I witnessed the poultry industry become totally integrated and it turned the farmers into share croppers. The farmers had the investment in land, facilities (built to the specifications of the packers) and did not own the livestock and feed used to develop the chicks. When the packer didn't need the product, they just simply did not offer the chicks to the producer. The producers found themselves at the mercy of the packers. The pork industry is going, or has gone, the same way.

Now some say the beef industry is just too large and diverse to go the way of the poultry and pork. I say it is NOT. With new technology on the forefront, the genetics will be identified using gene markers and other tools and the packers will invest in the genetics that will provide the product they want. They will then offer the genetics to the producers in the form of bulls or semen. They will insist that the producers keep back the heifers for replacements to be used to further advance their gene line.If the producers refuse to follow instructions, the packer will dock them at the point of sale so heavy that will fall in line. This is called BRANDING.
I agree, the handwritting is on the wall. Don't know that it will play out just as you said because hog people found problems with using just one or two lines and it is cheaper to have other people develope the genetics you use.
I,ve been thinking of this since bse introduction in the U.S.A. If I was so of mind I think I could put a business plan and proposal together and take to some investors that I know, and control a large portion of Canada's cattle flow within the next 12 years. Vertical integration is coming ,get on or get out when it does.
You might be a little slow on that. I've already heard rumors that some very large company is planning on setting up a series of feedlots just south of the Canadian border with plans to specialize in buying cheap Canadian cattle. I guess this also gives them the flexibility, in case the border is closed again, to buy US cattle instead.

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