Today’s World Traders
If one is in the livestock business, whether it is raising, feeding, brokering or processing lamb, hogs or beef and, God forbid, chicken, you can consider yourself a world trader. Please, don’t look at it lightly, it is the world we live in today.
In our region, most of us raise livestock, and we have some of the best beef and lamb in the world. We’re proud of the recognition and realize to complement it, we need to be marketers of our livestock.
It is no secret, but in our region, most everybody can raise a calf or lamb. The hard part is marketing.
Just look around at who gets the highest prices, it is usually someone who understands marketing. The term “reputation herds” is often used in the hills and at livestock auctions. To buyers, reputation herds means good cattle and sheep to buy that will perform well in the feedlots and grade well at the processing plants.
With all the transparency and information connected to our livestock today, a lot of the feeders and processors all have files on the good and not so good livestock. We are all competitors against everyone else in the region.
The same theory also works for other countries. American beef and lamb are noted for being the best for the price worldwide.
This has created a demand to guide the exports and imports. It is one of the main reasons America needs to be careful about which countries import their lamb and beef into our country.
Even with our excellent products, America is getting hammered by some other countries. Take lamb from New Zealand and Australia, for example.
They are experts in exporting lamb products to America. It is a daily business for them and they are very good at getting their inferior lamb into America at a lower price. We see their products at Sam’s Club and other large stores.
Closer to home, Canada and Mexico are big competitors for us, and for the most part, they have good meat products, many of which originated in America. As with New Zealand and Australia, they out compete us with a lower price. Sometimes it’s higher.
The sheep industry has their work cut out for them, and hopefully a strong Lamb Checkoff and improved genetics will help them be more competitive. Ever since COVID-19 started, they have been making great strides in the demand for lamb. While lamb prices have sharply fallen lately, we hope the demand will shorten the over-supply issue.
While the numbers for cattle imports may seem large at times, they are really not so large in the big picture of beef products in the U.S. A lot of the cattle imports are cows, bulls and lean beef used to mix with American fat for hamburger.
As you know, hamburger is big worldwide and it takes both fat and meat to become a product. Combining the two is marketing, and is one reason for the high prices of cows and bulls at the auction yards.
The true story is, beef and lamb marketing are a complex issue for us out in the hills, but we realize it does start with us, the producers. It is a bigger issue than drought, prices and other pressing issues. Good marketing helps in all kinds of times.