As I sit and read the never-ending stream of editorial through the trade media on packer collusion and price fixing, I have to wonder: Where was all the collusion and price fixing last fall when packers in Pennsylvania had to pay more than $1.40/lb. for slaughter cattle? Slaughter cattle sold for more last fall than I have ever seen feeder cattle trade for in my 50 years in the industry.
As a cow-calf producer, I know many of my colleagues — upon reading this — will contend I am in bed with the packers. But, if packers really were price fixing, wouldn't it have made sense for them to have gotten together last fall to say: “Come hell or high water, we're never going to pay more than 90¢/lb. for slaughter cattle.” If packers were truly able to control price, I think they would have.
However, as we have seen time and again, the old basic economic theory of supply and demand is the true driver of price. As an industry, we need to save our dollars, energy and ink for issues that will control our future.
Let's put the packer control issue to bed and move to issues that will make us all stronger.
Spring Mills, PA
A Vote For Private Testing
USDA's decision regarding Creekstone Farms' proposal to test all its animals for bovine spongiform encephalopathy is a great demonstration of how government gets in the way of individuals creating wealth. If a U.S. company can offer a product that's acceptable to everyone, then that should be the choice of the buyers and sellers, not the government.
Allow Creekstone To Test
In regard to USDA denying Creekstone Farms' request to test all its animals for bovine spongiform encephalopathy: If both the U.S. consumer and the export market want BSE testing and are willing to pay for it, then why not let it happen?
Some say it implies a more safe or wholesome product than is scientifically provable but, but so do “organic” standards. There's no scientific evidence organic is better than any other properly raised food, but we have USDA standards for it.
If the market demands it, USDA should get out of the way and let those who want to do it, do it. Not doing so implies we have something to hide. If the big boys won't do it, then let the little guys have the market.