It’s a common goal

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 21, 2005
by WLJ
I received a letter and renewal from a reader last week that has taken WLJ for three generations, starting with my grandpa Nelson Crow. He said that grandpa always wrote the paper for the rancher. I would imagine that this reader has seen a lot of change in the U.S. cattle/beef industry.
Through this entire BSE issue I have been accused of not representing the producers, and I’d like to say that is simply not true. Without you, the producer, there is no WLJ. If we’re not telling you what you want to hear, I apologize. Our goal is to report on the entire cattle/beef industry and report factual stories, so you can make good business decisions. It’s unfortunate that producers feel they have to choose sides on issues when the fundamental goals are the same. You have to admit, there has been some absolutely wild stuff going on.
Starting with beef checkoff, which the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on in the next few weeks. This producer-funded program has done a lot of good over the past 20 years and to kill it over a lousy $1-per-head is crazy. Even if you have to associate NCBA with it, killing it is the worst crime that a handful of cattlemen have committed, and, trust me, it is just a handful who have tried to kill your only promotion and research program.
Next it’s free trade or fair trade, whatever you want to call it. Neither truly exists, or will exist. All we can hope for is access to markets. Every country plays a few games on trade, and we’re no different.
R-CALF had a big win when they received their emergency injunction. The cattle markets took a big swing—$6-8 on feeder cattle and $4-6 on fed cattle. There were many in the industry—I include packers—who were ready to ship live cattle south. Many were betting that the border would open on March 7, and Canadian cattle would be on their way to utilize unused slaughter capacity at U.S. packing plants. I believe that the futures market already had an open border priced into the market.
Last week R-CALF was told by Japanese officials that their meddling in the Canadian border situation and activity with Congress will only delay trade with Japan. R-CALF ran an ad in the Washington Post thanking the Senate for upholding the closure of the Canadian border and asked the House to do the same.
The Senate also passed a resolution that would impose trade sanctions with Japan to open beef trade, really nothing more than a little saber rattling. On one hand, the Senate wants to keep Canada closed, and on the other it wants Japan to open to U.S. beef, which sounds good to constituents. But I would imagine that it sounds a little hypocritical to the rest of the world, especially from a country that has been built on creating freer and fairer trade.
The R-CALF reply about the Japanese diplomat was that they didn’t know that he represented government, they thought he was just an industry person, which sounds a little naive. Bill Bullard, R-CALF’s CEO, said that R-CALF’s actions, relative to the Canadian border should have no impact on whether Japan reopens its market to imports of U.S. beef and that R-CALF is not aware that Japan has given any indication that it is willing to accept Canadian beef.
R-CALF is probably here to stay, and if they intend on being an industry leader I think it’s time they start acting that way. They have been able to get a lot of things done with few resources, which is remarkable. They certainly may represent producers, but I think it’s time they step into the big leagues and represent this industry responsibly. — PETE CROW