Optimistic outlook: National agriculture update provided at Wyoming Cattle Industry Convention
Riverton – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Todd Wilkinson, a second-generation cattle producer from South Dakota, gave this year’s national ag update at the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Annual Summer Convention and Trade Show June 9.
During his presentation, Wilkinson highlighted stronger market conditions in the cattle industry and discussed new challenges facing producers, although he remains optimistic for the industry’s future by working together.
The U.S.is facing record exports and demand with the lowest cattle numbers in the past 60 years, according to Wilkinson.
“Things are working, as the industry is delivering quality products in a safe manner. We are doing it right,” he said.
Wilkinson explained, “The cattle market functions best when it is free from governmental interference, where producers are allowed to make economic decisions in their best interest for producing quality products through genetics and rotational grazing, which leads to better market conditions.”
However, Wilkinson added, “We are facing future industry challenges which include foreign animal disease, activist groups and federal regulations, and we need to wake up and work together to protect our rights as producers.”
“There is an agenda out there to put producers out of business. They are coming after all of us,” he stated.
Foreign animal disease
Wilkinson noted one of the biggest challenges U.S. producers face is animal disease.
Currently, producers’ livelihoods are being compromised by Brazilian beef imports as the country continues to not meet U.S. food safety and animal health standards.
Wilkinson pointed out Brazil’s history of failing to report diseases found in their herds in a timely and accurate manner.
“This poses a significant threat to both American producers and consumers, as consumers should be confident in the beef they purchase. Importing beef from Brazil needs to halt, as it will kill consumer faith,” he said.
Wilkinson continued, “The best way to stop Brazilian beef from entering the U.S. market is for producers to get involved.”
He encouraged producers to contact their local NCBA state representatives and voice their concerns on the issue.
Federal regulations and government mandates complicate a producer’s ability to be profitable, while activist groups have a bigger agenda for producers.
“Overregulation and costly litigation are funded out of the producer’s pocket,” said Wilkinson.
Wilkinson debated this issue on May 17, while testifying before the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry.
During the hearing, he discussed the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act, which was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
“The act claims to benefit checkoff organizations, while in reality, the policy inhibits a producer’s ability to market and promote their respective industries,” he noted.
“House representatives introducing the OFF Act and activist groups have a bigger plan for the industry ‘to move producers off their land,’” stated Wilkinson.
During the update, Wilkinson also explained, “What is happening is a conservative effort to move producers off of their land and put them out of business, but producers need to look beyond each issue and at the bigger picture.”
“We have to be ready to swing and protect our rights,” Wilkinson encouraged as he closed his speech, further noting issues are out there and producers need to come together and fight for the industry.
Wilkinson testified in May before Congress, addressing current issues producers are challenged with. He shared he is a true believer in NCBA and encouraged producers to get involved and let their voices be heard.
Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.