Too much drama

Aug 5, 2011

Last week, the beef industry’s multitude of beef and cattle organizations gathered in Florida for their summer, industry wide meeting. The big news was that the drama may finally be over with the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s (NCBA) relationship problems.

I wasn’t at the meeting, but sources have told us that there was a much more reasonable and civil discourse about proposed changes in how the two groups operate and go forward with the cattle industry’s marketing and research efforts.

With the former CBB leadership gone, it appears that all the drama is gone with them, which has changed the complexion of the entire episode. However, I would be certain that some activist cattlemen’s groups will continue to fan the flame in an effort to harm NCBA’s policy efforts.

The Roles and Responsibilities document proposed by the CBB Executive Committee would have changed how the CBB worked with NCBA and the state beef councils. The document was amended and passed by the entire board. We’re told that it looks very little like the original language proposed and the final changes followed many of the suggestions put forth by the state beef councils.

There were also some bylaw changes proposed that would have changed the CBB nominating process; those changes were not adopted by the board. The measure failed to gain the necessary votes to pass. The final vote was 60 to 31 against adoption. Since a two-thirds vote was needed, it failed by a single vote. A one-vote margin will certainly send a message to any CBB executive committee member that changes are needed. The bylaw changes were instead referred to committee to be brought up again at their annual winter meeting.

With the absence of former CBB leadership, it seems that folks were more willing to have an open and honest debate about the situation and many seem to realize now that the system does work. When asked about having an industry-wide meeting with USDA regarding the CBB’s relationship with NCBA, Polly Ruhland, CBB’s interim CEO, reportedly said that this was that meeting. She also said that the NCBA checkoff financial firewall is functioning properly.

Wesley Grau, a cattleman from Grady, NM, will be the new chairman of the CBB Executive Committee and he said that these changes mark a new day for the beef checkoff. Weldon Wynn from Arkansas will be the vice chair of the executive committee and Roger West will be the new secretary/treasurer.

Bill Donald, NCBA president, said last week that the summer meeting was very good, with a lot of cooperative spirit, the complete opposite of last summer’s meeting.

The other drama last week was the Washington, D.C., fight over federal spending and borrowing. Like the CBB, it seems that some people just want to create drama. This new spending/debt deal looks like the same smoke and mirrors coming out of Washington politicos. From the outside looking in, it seems like the decisions to be made are fairly simple. Manage your business like everyone else.

I’m certainly no economist, but we all know that you shouldn’t spend what you don’t have. With government controlling the banks, it seems that they should know a little bit about credit limits—you just can’t borrow more than you can pay back. I’m one of those guys who likes to pay attention to politics, but this situation is getting way out of hand, with no reasonable solution in sight.

In 2002, the federal budget, when we had one, was just a paltry $2.2 trillion dollars. Ironically, that is just the amount of revenue the federal government brings in today. The difference is now they are spending $3.6 trillion, which is $1.4 trillion more than they have.

I would have to think that most folks in agriculture understand credit better than any of these politicians. The irony is that you never hear any of these folks talk about paying down the debt. Now we’re going to extend the debt up to $16,500,000,000,000. I think that’s enough zeros.

I’ve been perhaps paying too much attention to the wrong news and getting wound up on this stuff. But, you’ve got to wonder when some common sense will show up in Washington politics; it sure did at CBB. — PETE CROW