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RSS By: Steve Cornett, Beef Today

Read the latest blog from Steve Cornett.

Optimism on the left

Jan 20, 2009

            A big question is where Barack Obama will try to lead the cattle industry.
            During the campaign, he sounded a bit animal rightsy and a bit anti-trade and a bit populist and a bit anti-big business and more than a bit environmentalist.
            But then he is, as his preacher mentioned, a politician and so who knows?
            Anyhow, the guys at R-CALF and their splintered-off U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, have cause to be optimistic that with Obama and a heavily Democratic Congress, “the environment is now right to implement some of the issues we’ve been working on for 10 years,” to quote the former organization’s Bill Bullard.
            That’s one reason you have not seen the sort of hue and cry you would have expected when the final COOL rule came out. There is a lot about the final rule the protectionists don’t like, but they saw no need to waste their rhetoric on the Bush USDA.
            They will try, first, to get the new USDA to revise the rule, and, should that fail, they will look for changes from what they think will be a friendlier Congress.
            Bill Bullard is also optimistic about making “progress”—his term, not necessarily mine—on other structural issues. Obama was among Senators who supported a ban on packer ownership of cattle, for instance, And among those concerned about JBS imposing such a large footprint on the industry.
            Obama seems, early on, to be moving toward the center on a lot of non-agricultural issues. However, his environmental picks may point toward programs that professional cattle producers might find onerous. If those come, they will be welcomed          by some sectors within agriculture who perceive anything that hurts “corporate agriculture” as good for “family farmers.”
            Those rather visible folks might provide an Obama administration with all the political cover then need to make drastic changes in the way cattle are produced in this country.
            The more I study them, the more convinced I am that Michael Pollan’s ideas will be important in the next few years. That means the cattle industry and beef production will be viewed as a problem rather than a beneficial segment of the economy.
            That  attitude—that current beef systems generate too much carbon and provide too much cheap beef—mixed with the “family farm” and “localvore” movements, might make the next four years very “interesting” for people who hope to do beef business as usual.
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COMMENTS (5 Comments)

Vines & Cattle
CattleCo, I'm well aware of what cow calf producers need, I am one. My name ain't Joel, I was referring to Joel Salatin, the man who gets $1200-1500 dollars a calf, and never feeds them a grain of corn. That's who we need to emulate, and stop propping up a system that lets us do little more than hope for a meager profit on a calf.
11:59 AM Jan 24th
Apparently you do not have a good handle on the cost of growing "Yellow dent" The Cattle, Pig, and Poultry were SUBSIDIZED for years with CHEAP CORN.......As for Monsanto and Deere the chickens are coming home to roost in those arenas! It;s the 5's $500@ ton Anhydrous, $5 buck Corn, $85to$95 dollar fat cattle. That will let everyone make a buck......problem is ....cost of feeders! The cow calf producer needs about $550 to $700 for a 550 to 650 wt calf to make a living. Cow calf operators are going to have to get set up to do a little backgrounding or send them off to capture the value of the genetics they are buying in their bull power. The opportunities are out there for all segements of the industry!
12:29 PM Jan 21st
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