Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is looking to create an opportunity to reverse what’s happening today in the countryside where livestock producers are selling at a loss only to learn processors are capitalizing on large profits. He announced intent to invest $500 million in American Rescue Plan funds to expand meat and poultry processing capacity so producers have more choices in the marketplace. This is to strengthen existing small and very small processing facilities.
This all sounds good but will do very little to help correct the problem. If they really want to correct the problem, then break up the big four packing house monopolies. Also get foreign ownership of any of our food supply to 10% or none.
When they quote Choice and Select beef and then let the packer pay what he wants then if you can’t see there is a monopoly or rip-off it boils down to these things. You are extremely stupid, naïve or, better yet, you are tied to these packing houses one of two ways. You either handle enough cattle that they have given you a very sweet deal so they have enough numbers that they can steal the rest. Or a very few own a piece of these monopolies while the rest of us are enticed to give them our fat cattle with guarantee that we will get $1 per hundredweight more than everyone else. Then the rest sell them any way they can to try to survive.
In one week’s time the big four kill 520,000 cattle and if they make $1,000 per head that gives the big four a half of a billion profit for the week. You tell me if that is not a rip-off.
At 40 years of age a man and his classmate guy friends decided to get together. They said, “Where shall we eat?” They decided, “Let’s eat at The Gooseberry Grill.” They all agreed because the food is good and the waitresses are attractive. At age 50, they all got together again. They said, “Where shall we eat?” They decided The Gooseberry Grill because you don’t have to wait a long time on your food and it’s decently priced. At age 60, they decided to get together. They said, “Where shall we eat?” They decided The Gooseberry Grill because it is smoke free and there is not a lot of noise. At age 70, they decided to get together. They said, “Let’s eat at The Gooseberry Grill because it is wheelchair accessible and they have an elevator.” At age 80, they decided to get together. They said, “Where do we want to eat?” One said, “Let’s eat at The Gooseberry Grill” and they all agreed because they had never eaten there before.
Editor’s note: Jerry Nine, Woodward, Oklahoma, is a lifetime cattleman who grew up on his family’s ranch near Slapout, Oklahoma.