Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is visiting with the 2022 President-Elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Todd Wilkinson, about the state of the cattle industry and producer morale as 2022 comes to an end.
“The ability of that producer to maybe see some dollars coming back into their pocketbook has permeated the countryside,” Wilkinson said. “Suddenly, the cow-calf guys are getting a little bit more for their calves, and maybe we are getting some competitive advantage back up on the packers, simply because of the numbers out there.”
Wilkinson said he has seen a sentiment of optimism across the countryside in the beef industry.
“I think the beef industry is looking for a pretty good run,” Wilkinson said. “I think we are going to be back in that 2014-15 range where we can put some money in our pockets. Goodness knows we need an opportunity to do that.”
Wilkinson also talked about the work NCBA is doing to improve the market.
“From the producers that I talk to, we really just want to have the ability to not have somebody tell us how we have to market our cattle in any particular fashion,” Wilkinson said. “The biggest thing that I hear from the countryside is we certainly need some fixes on some of these areas. We definitely need the livestock marketing act reauthorized and maybe some tweaks to that.”
The results of the government becoming involved in market manipulation, Wilkinson said, could be devastating for the beef industry. Regarding increasing beef packing plant capacity, Wilkinson said he believes it is a good thing to have more space.
“The biggest problem with the way the beef industry functions is you have got a pipeline of calves up at the top, and then into that feeder cattle market, and then you have a narrow funnel that they have to pass through to the packers,” Wilkinson said. “It is that choke point when you get down to that funnel that becomes a problem.”
Having the ability to add packing capacity, particularly small and mid-size, gives producers more leverage in negotiating where they want to sell their cattle and gives them the ability to retain multiple bids.
“So, competition is a good thing, and the ability that we are seeing other people to go out there and develop some new packing facilities- that is going to put us in a distinct advantage from the cow-calf guy and the feeder side,” Wilkinson said. “That has not been the norm. The fact that we are going to have the upper hand just gives me a great big smile on my face.”
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