In this file:
· “Stop The Stealin” – Cattlemen Rally for Fair Markets in Omaha
· Omaha Rally Seeks Trump’s Attention, Perdue’s Firing
· Cattle ranchers take issue with Trump
“Stop The Stealin” – Cattlemen Rally for Fair Markets in Omaha
BY DTN/Progressive Farmer
via KRVN (NE) - October 3, 2019
OMAHA (DTN) — Cattle producers rallied Wednesday in a daylong event at an Omaha hotel, calling on President Donald Trump to bring more fairness to cattle markets and to reduce the influence of imported beef and cattle on U.S. market prices.
Organizers sought to capture some of the same fire they held in 1994 when a large packer at the time stopped buying cash cattle for several weeks, crashing the live cattle markets and sparking a similar rally at the same Omaha hotel.
“We did raise some hell back in ’94,” said Mike Callicrate, a Kansas cattle producer and advocate for independent cattle producers. “We didn’t have any competition then for fat cattle, and we don’t have any competition now for fat cattle.”
Roughly 350 cattle producers attended Wednesday’s event, and they were asked to take to social media with the hashtag #FairCattleMarkets and mention President Trump’s Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, in their tweets.
“I’m fired up, I’m wound up and I want this administration to do something about it,” Callicrate said. “They don’t need an act of Congress.”
RALLY’S KEY DEMANDS
Some of the key demands at the rally included restoring some of the changes to livestock marketing rules that were proposed late in the Obama administration then withdrawn by the Trump administration, especially clarification that a producer does not need to demonstrate harm to competition to bring a claim against a packer. Speakers also want USDA to reconstitute the Packers and Stockyards Administration, which now is under the umbrella of the Agricultural Marketing Service.
“We just want a fair shake, and I can tell you these cattle producers don’t want a government check, they just want the markets to be fixed,” said Wes Schoemyer, a row-crop farmer and cattle producer in northeast Missouri.
One of the biggest points of the rally runs directly counter to a key piece of the Trump administration’s agenda on trade. They want the U.S. to withdraw from the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) until country-of-origin labeling is included in the trade deal.
COOL was implemented in 2009 on meat labels, but Canada and Mexico sued the U.S. in the World Trade Organization and received a ruling that the way the U.S. implemented COOL discriminated against foreign livestock. At the behest of the packing industry and some livestock trade groups, Congress revoked COOL in late 2015.
“We produce the best product in the world, and we need to have it identified in the marketplace,” said Fred Stokes, former executive director for the Organization of Competitive Markets, one of the lead organizers of the rally. His comments drew a round of applause.
Most speakers Wednesday in some way or another pointed to the price collapse the week of Aug. 12 after a fire the weekend earlier at Tyson Foods’ packing plant in Holcomb, Kansas. The plant, which is closed until likely January, accounted for about 6,000 processed cattle a day, or about 5% of the market. Live cattle prices dropped about $8 per hundredweight in the days following the fire while boxed beef prices rose.
Kansas State University released a report in mid-September that stated that Kansas feedyards lost $184.99 per head in August while packer margins spiked to nearly four times their annual average, or roughly $549. KSU stated in that same report that cattle feeders likely will not see a positive net return on steers or heifers until May 2020.
September is a month that cattlemen don’t want to relive, noted DTN Livestock Market Analyst ShayLe Stewart. Live cattle futures prices dropped as low as $94.60 in the second week of September. Prices haven’t been that low since October of 2016. Cash cattle prices followed suit, and the market completely eroded.
“Cattlemen expect to see lower live cattle prices in summer months, but selling fat cattle for under $100 is hard to swallow,” Stewart said. “And what really came as a shock to many producers is when boxed beef prices soared. The last week of August, choice cuts were selling for $234.35 and select cuts for $211.85. For the last week of September, choice cuts sold for $214.50, while select cuts sold for $190.12.”
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced in late August that the Packers and Stockyards Division would conduct an investigation into the price spread between live cattle and boxed beef following the Tyson fire.
“The problem is the agency that would conduct this investigation has been abolished and been moved over to an agency that is cozy with the packers,” said Stokes.
Despite Perdue’s action, the rally included signs calling on President Trump to fire the ag secretary. Cattle producers and others pointed to Perdue’s comments quoted Tuesday in Wisconsin suggesting farmers get bigger to survive.
“In America, the big get bigger and the small go out,” Perdue was quoted as saying after an appearance at the World Dairy Expo. “I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”
Bill Bullard, CEO of the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA), said his board leadership believes Perdue has a statutory obligation to strengthen family farms, not champion large operations.
“The secretary’s comments are very disconcerting — the view that the factory-farm movement is going to put the family farm by the wayside,” Bullard said.
Bullard argued cattle producers have faced an inexplicable price collapse in 2015, despite strong beef demand, near-record beef prices and strong exports. Still, Bullard noted it was the price collapse after the Tyson fire that “set off a firestorm” in the countryside.
THE PROVERBIAL STRAW ...
more, including audio [3:19 min.]
Omaha Rally Seeks Trump’s Attention, Perdue’s Firing
Greg Henderson, Drovers
October 2, 2019
At a rally of cattlemen raising their voices against low cattle prices and excessive profits by beef packers, the biggest cheers and applause came when it was suggested President Donald Trump fire Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.
At Wednesday’s “Rally to Stop the Stealin” in Omaha, coordinated by the Organization for Competitive Markets, nearly 400 cattlemen heard various speakers describe events that have damaged America’s cattle markets.
Corbitt Wall, whose Feeder Flash appears daily online and who is a former Agricultural Marketing Service employee reporting cattle prices, said the biggest issue with current markets is that formula sales “is eating up our trade.”
“Is there a competitive market for feeder cattle,” Wall asked? After a pause, he said, “Yes, of course there is. Feeder cattle are traded daily with bidders at sales across the country.”
Wall next asked, “Is there a competitive market for fed cattle?” Attendees answered with a resounding “No.”
“You are at the mercy of packers,” Wall said. “Packers will wait you out – cowboys can’t compete with packers (when most of their needs are filled with formula cattle).”
OCM board member Mike Callicrate told cattlemen they are “buying (feeder cattle) in a more competitive market than you are selling into. That doesn’t work.”
Other speakers suggested that the federal government must take action to “breakup” the Big Four packers. However, OCM board member Fred Stokes suggested such a breakup would be difficult because of Ag Secretary Perdue’s actions.
“What’s the first thing (Perdue) did? He reorganized the USDA and abolished the agency that was supposed to administer the Packers & Stockyards Act,” Stokes said. “He needs to go.”
Anti-Perdue sentiments were high just a day after the Ag Secretary told reporters at the World Dairy Expo, “In America, the big get bigger and the small go out. I don’t think in America we, for any small business, we have a guaranteed income or guaranteed profitability.”
The main objective of the rally, however, was to gain the attention of President Trump. Attendees were encouraged to send messages to the President’s Twitter account with the hashtag #FairCattleMarkets.
“There are six actions President Trump can take today to save the U.S. cattle market,” said Vaughn Meyer, OCM vice president. He listed the following:
Cattle ranchers take issue with Trump
by CNN Wire
via KFOR (OK) - October 2, 2019
OMAHA, Neb. – Hundreds of cattle ranchers rode into Omaha, Nebraska, on Wednesday — some on horseback — hoping to get a message to President Donald Trump: They’re not happy.
Cole Avery, who’s been running a cattle ranch for three years in Mississippi, said he drove 18 hours to be at the rally. He said he works a second job in order to provide for his family.
“I hope that we can be seen and rock the boat a little bit,” Avery, who voted for Trump, said.
He hopes Trump will see how the people who voted him in are struggling.
“Because if it wasn’t for them, he wouldn’t have gotten there in the first place,” he said.
Despite Trump’s frequent claims about helping farmers, he hasn’t changed a 2015 policy allowing imported beef to be labeled as “Product of the USA” if it’s processed and packaged in the US. Ranchers say that means their US-raised beef looks the same as foreign beef to consumers — and that Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue hasn’t listened to their concerns.
“We feel very strongly that Secretary Perdue has backed out on America’s family farmers and ranchers, and is representing transnational agribusiness’ interest against the family farmers’ interest,” said Joe Maxwell, a fourth-generation hog farmer and former Democratic lieutenant governor of Missouri.
“It gives very little room for America’s cowboys and cowgirls to have a fair opportunity to sell their cattle,” Maxwell added.
The US Department of Agriculture did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Last year, the Organization for Competitive Markets and the American Grassfed Association filed a formal petition with the Department of Agriculture to change the labeling standards. But the agency hasn’t taken action to change the rule.
Those two groups, along with 18 others, organized the rally held on Wednesday. They’re also asking for labeling requirements to be written into the proposed US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which Trump hopes will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.
They also want Trump to cease efforts to reopen the US market to Brazilian beef. Earlier this year, Trump met with Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and agreed to take steps to reopen the market, which has been closed to fresh beef since 2017 after some shipments failed safety checks.
Farmers are politically crucial to Trump’s reelection campaign, and many have stood behind the President even as his trade war with China has hurt their exports and lowered the price they can get for commodities like soybean and corn. But some growers are upset with the administration over its biofuel policy.
The beef labeling issue opens up another fight with supporters Trump will need in 2020. Many of the ranchers at the event on Wednesday own small, family-run farms and believe they are getting squeezed by the meat packaging companies, which are dominated by four big companies.
But meat packagers say they aren’t doing anything wrong.
“Meat Institute members will work with the administration to help ensure beef markets continue to operate in a fair and transparent manner,” said Sarah Little, a spokeswoman for the North American Meat Institute...