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Dear Fellow Sheep Producers,

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “The rumors of our demise have been greatly exaggerated.”

Over the past many months, rumors and mistruths have swirled about Mountain States Lamb Cooperative and our meat company, Mountain States Rosen. We are alive and well, accepting lambs for slaughter and paying for those lambs in a timely manner at competitive prices. Quality and yield return on lambs through our plant are exceptional.

Mountain States supports price reporting, and we have actively pushed for inclusion of our cooperative prices in those reports. We do not believe keeping our data out of the USDA reports is good for the industry. Hopefully, we will see our data included soon, which will give the industry a more complete and timely picture of the lamb market.

Our prices are competitive, our members’ lambs get killed when they are ready, and we offer premiums for better quality lambs. We provide them with a settlement sheet showing all charges and providing detailed information on carcass quality. This information is provided to help our members improve their sheep herd and better understand what they are delivering.

We are here for our members and for the industry. We encourage you to consider joining us in making the industry stronger.

Sincerely,

Frank Moore,

Mountain States Lamb Cooperative Chairman

Douglas

To the Editor:

This is an example of an overreach by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

We have leased our fee minerals to an oil company. The oil company has proposed a site to drill an oil well. The direction will be horizontal for two miles, all under privately owned surfaces. Out of the two miles, five-eighths are fee minerals, and three-eighths are federal minerals. Since some of the minerals are federal, BLM starts to have total control over the entire project.

Therefore, they have their archeologists out looking for everything and anything. They state they have found a “cairn” – also known as a pile of rocks – on a BLM 40-acre parcel, which is at least one mile away from the proposed site. They state a production pad cannot be within the view shed, or line of sight, of the cairn. There are already many production sights in view of the cairn, many on our neighbor’s land and two on our private surface.

Now, back to the so-called cairn. Our ranch has been a sheep ranch for well over 100 years. Just recently, we have gone to a cow/calf operation. There are at least three other sites that are sheepherder’s monuments. We claim this cairn is a sheepherder’s monument. Like all the other monuments, it is on the top of a hill with excellent view of the surrounding area. Like the cairn, all of the monuments have been tumbled by Mother Nature or by animals.

The cairn is in line of sight of a huge portion of our privately-owned minerals. Therefore, the BLM seems to think they can prevent any development of our minerals. We call this a taking of private property without due compensation. This is part of the Fifth Amendment.

We thought Roundup readers might like to know about this arbitrary and capricious ruling. It is not a law. We are currently in touch with our Senators, Congresswoman and state officials. Hopefully we can come to a mutual agreement.

Respectfully,

Warren and Judith Manning

Douglas

To the Editor,

As a beef producer-volunteer at the national level, I hear a lot of things, and lately, a lot of things I hear are just plain wrong. I’m writing this in an effort to help correct some of the misinformation that’s swirling among cattlemen and women and hopefully prevent us from making mistakes with an important program that was approved and is still widely supported by beef producers. That program is the beef checkoff, and it has been under fire lately for reasons that aren’t being fairly or accurately portrayed by a minority in our community.

First, let me explain that the beef checkoff and the Federation of State Beef Councils (Federation) is us, and when I say us, I mean each cattleman and cattlewoman in every state with a qualified state beef council. In my case, I am a beef producer and lover of all things beef and cattle. I am a daughter, wife, mom and off-the-farm employee. And, with my husband, I am the co-owner and operator of a relatively small cow/calf operation that feels the hurt when prices drop and lifestyle changes become mandatory. That’s me and that’s us, both as a family and as a community. We feel these things together and that’s why I take the attacks on state beef councils and the checkoff personally.

The Federation is an organization of people, and those people have cow/calf operations, feedlots and farms. We raise seedstock, background calves and so on. But we all share one commonality – our love of cattle, beef and this way of life. We need to spend a little more time thinking about the things that unite us and a little less time concentrating on that which is dividing us, if we hope to pass this life and passion on to those who come after us. 

To do that, I want to share a few of the things that I genuinely appreciate about the beef checkoff and particularly, the 50 cents that remain under the guidance of state beef councils in every qualified state.

First, I live in a state where cattle outnumber people four-to-one. The Federation of State Beef Councils offers an extremely efficient method of ensuring that our funds reach the population that needs to hear our messages about beef.

Second, as a producer-volunteer sitting on the Federation Board of Directors, I get to work alongside producer-volunteers from across the country to study how our investments can be directed to the most impactful programs.

Finally, each state beef council has access to materials and information that allow every state-directed program, from advertising to producer communications, to maximize their resources. The advertising and program materials are available in multiple formats, and I might add, they are outstanding.

  We’ve gained great momentum because of muscle profiling studies, identification and promotion of new methods of cookery and research programs such as Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet (BOLD) and countless others. What if those went away and we lost the opportunity to attract new consumers to our product? What would that mean for the future of my ranch?

  As I think about some of the positive things I appreciate about the checkoff and the Federation, I’m also struck by the potential impacts if states, particularly mine, were to lose these investments in our livelihoods and our futures. Right now, the preference for beef’s taste is as high as it has ever been. What if we didn’t continue to capitalize on that fact and instead we lost beef demand as a result? What would the market look like when my children want to step back into the operation? 

Foreign markets contribute a significant and growing return to the bottom line of every operation in the United States. The U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) estimates that the return is $270 per head to every one of the fed animals in this country and I firmly believe that money is passed back through the chain in the form of higher calf prices. What if we lose the ability to work with USMEF and the returns for beef went away, what would that mean to the profitability of my ranch when we sell calves in the fall? 

When times are hard, it’s easy to look for someone or something to blame, but as cattlemen and cattlewomen, we ought to be better than that. We know that hard times come and go, but we get through them by helping one another and working together, not by tearing one another apart. That’s what we should be working on now. Rather than blame and tossing out the checkoff, let’s work together and build a better future for beef and our families.

Sincerely,

Dawn Caldwell

Nebraska Beef Producer

Federation of State Beef Councils Vice Chair

To the Editor:

By now, you’ve probably seen that there’s a determined effort by activist organizations to undermine the beef industry. Groups like Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and Public Justice are attempting to change the way we do business, and they’ve banded together with groups like R-CALF and other like-minded organizations to target state beef councils and their work to promote beef.

We might disagree on policy matters within the industry, but it’s another thing entirely to target the volunteer-led state beef councils through unholy alliances with animal rights activists and others intent on driving beef producers out of business.

You read that correctly. R-CALF and like-minded groups have joined with activist organizations like Public Justice. In this case, the Public Justice/R-CALF alliance is litigating a case against the Montana Beef Council. We’ve seen this trend increase lately. It was first begun by HSUS activists who used their deep pockets to buy influence in the beef industry and gain standing to file lawsuits against the checkoff in an all-out effort to end beef promotion, and ultimately, the production of beef in the United States.

HSUS, Public Justice, R-CALF and others have been unsuccessful in the halls of Congress, and they aren’t making progress among consumers or beef producers at the ballot box, so they’re spending their time and money to perpetuate misinformation and engage in a guerilla campaign against beef and the checkoff. They know ending the checkoff eliminates the only self-help program designed and led by beef producers and they know that’s all that stands between them and more meatless diets.

We must work together to stop HSUS, Public Justice and their collaborators. We must stand together to prevent these activists from pushing cattle off the land, sliding beef off the plate and driving cattle producers off the ranch. Don’t believe everything you read. This fight is about stopping the activists from achieving those goals. And that’s all it’s about.   

I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat it again so it’s clear. HSUS does not care about beef producers or the checkoff. They care about stopping the production and consumption of meat. Every member of the beef community who collaborates with this group, for any reason, is helping them achieve that goal. They will stop at nothing to change your way of life, drive beef producers out of business and irreparably harm the social and economic fabric of rural America.

HSUS, Public Justice and their armies of urban lawyers would love nothing more than to remove beef from the plates of consumers. These activists are working to drive good cattlemen and cattlewomen out of business by promoting a meatless agenda. Visit bit.ly/2vCBzwP and bit.ly/2uDNeyb for examples. And, they’ve joined forces with some of your neighbors who have sold out and are helping them to accomplish that goal.

We need to stand together and shine a light on these alliances between R-CALF and their activist partners at Public Justice and elsewhere. These shams must be exposed for what they really are. It’s time to stand together to stop the attacks, misinformation and propaganda. It’s not in our nature to challenge our friends and neighbors, but there’s too much at stake to continue in silence.

Sincerely,

Kendal Frazier

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association CEO