CEO of the Beef Marketing Group, John Butler Discusses the Challenges for the Beef Industry


Oklahoma Farm Report

05 Feb 2020


Cattle producers are gathering in San Antonio, from all across the country for the Cattle Industries annual convention and trade show.


Radio Oklahoma Farm Director Ron Hays is in San Antonio covering the event where he had the opportunity to visit with the CEO of the Beef Marketing Group, John Butler.


John Butler is a second-generation cattle producer who has spent his career building and implementing beef supply chain programs with the end in mind from the beginning. Butler says to be more efficient; he encourages producers to work backward, which may sound funny. Still, Butler explains, "You know, the thinking is that if we really understand where our product ends up, and understand the best we can, what the needs are, and the expectations. Things like tenderness, juiciness, and flavorfulness, and certainly safe and wholesome, then we can really apply that kind of knowledge to how we build the product in the first place. So, maybe the customer wants a specific breed, so then we plug that in, and maybe they want it to be a specific size, they don't want a great big ribeye, they want a more moderate one. Now that affects how we can buy the right kind of feeder cattle, feed them appropriately, and get to the end product, so that's what's meant by that.


When thinking about today's Cattle industry, Butler says he believes we could do better by being more transparent, "I'm a bit critical, because I think we could be a lot better if we better understood, and really were a little bit more transparent. I'll give you an example; The industry not only here domestically, but globally, has given us a strong signal that we need a traceability program. That we can identify where the cattle come from, all the way to their endpoint. We just have not adopted that. Now in the state of Kansas, I take my hat off to them; they started the traceability program in Kansas. They've collaborated with Texas and other states, and now there's real momentum. So that's why I give us a pretty good score, but it's taken us 20 years to get here. I just think that other proteins have been able to take advantage of that certainly in a global marketplace where we don't have a traceability system and other countries do."


Looking ahead in the next five years, Butler says...


more, including audio [8:39 min.]