PHOENIX—National Farmers Union (NFU) recently joined five other national organizations representing cattle producers to agree to work jointly on urgent issues in the cattle marketplace. The organizations convened at the request of Livestock Marketing Association in Phoenix, Ariz., May 10.
This unprecedented meeting brought together diverse producer organizations to identify issues and discuss potential solutions. According to a joint press statement released May 17, attending organization representatives were pleased to have reached consensus on many issues and are committed to the ultimate goal of achieving a fair and transparent finished cattle marketing system.
Member leaders of NFU, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, R-CALF USA, and the United States Cattlemen’s Association were included in the historic meeting. American Farmers & Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union (AFR/OFU) Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh served as a representative of NFU. He was the only Oklahoman included in the event.
“Lack of competition in the beef industry has led to an outcry over cattle market issues that is now at a fever pitch as our nation’s ranchers become more desperate for a fair and transparent marketplace,” said Blubaugh. “Last week’s historic cattle industry meeting recognized the dire situation and brought all sides of the cattle business together to work toward solutions.
“Six major players, with differences of opinions and different policies, came together and formally recognized that our system is broken. Despite our differences, we identified problems and solutions we agree on and have agreed to move forward with what we can. I’m honored to be part of such a meeting and to be part of the reforms that will ensure independent cattle producers and cattle feeders have a place in their own industry.”
NFU President Rob Larew also represented the national organization at the meeting and was equally as adamant about the issues facing the cattle industry: “Unfair markets and a lack of competition in the beef industry has been extremely harmful to producers and consumers alike, especially during the last year. Many sectors within agriculture, including beef, are dominated by just a handful of multinational corporations. The time for action is long overdue, and NFU is glad to be a part of this effort to bring strong, swift, and meaningful reform.”
During the meeting, the discussion group talked candidly about a wide range of issues facing the cattle industry. Topics included, but were not limited to:
• Packer concentration,
• Price transparency and discovery,
• Packer oversight,
• Packers and Stockyards Act enforcement,
• Level of captive supply, and
• Packer capacity.
The group also agreed to take the following action items to their respective organizations for consideration:
• Expedite the renewal of USDA’s Livestock Mandatory Reporting (LMR), including formula base prices subject to the same reporting requirements as negotiated cash and the creation of a contract library.
• Demand the Department of Justice (DOJ) issue a public investigation status report and as warranted, conduct joint DOJ and USDA oversight of packer activity moving forward.
• Encourage investment in, and development of, new independent, local, and regional packers.