The organization’s leadership expressed encouragement in producer awareness and engagement noting that there were many first-time attendees. The attendance of the convention pays tribute to the organization’s efforts to support cattlemen in the face of an artificially suppressed cattle market; which, the organization alleges is a result of manipulation in the marketplace by the industry’s “Big 4” beef packers (Tyson Foods, Inc., JBS S.A., Cargill, Inc., and National Beef Packing Company, LLC). The convention comes on the tail of the market malady spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, beef became scarce on store shelves as packers cut production causing a monumental disruption in the beef supply chain. Cattle prices plummeted while beef prices; and packer margins, experienced all-time highs supporting the organization’s allegations.
USA hosted its 21st Annual Convention in Deadwood, S.D., on Aug. 19-21, 2020. The convention proclaims success boasting approximately 400 attendees from over 24 states and remaining powerfully steady in the light of the raging COVID-19 pandemic. Several hundred additional guests viewed the convention through online streaming, sending its message throughout cattle county as never before.
First-time attendees, Brad and Lori Kraft from Billings, Mont., offhandedly noted that “we were exhausted, and it wasn’t from gambling! We planned on touring Deadwood, but we just didn’t leave the convention.” According to the Krafts, “The quality of the convention was simply that good.” Brad asserts that in this industry “you are buried in your work, but you have to make the time to attend a convention like this. This is your livelihood — Take Care of It!” Lori continued their exuberance noting that “R-CALF USA has an amazing board, and it seems that their influence is growing. It’s good to have R-CALF USA doing this work in our industry!”
According to Bill Bullard, R-CALF USA CEO, the “turnout and participation demonstrated awareness that if we are to shape the cattle industry in the way that we want — the time is now!” When speaking of the organization’s vision, with forthright bold assurance, Bullard notes that “Never in our lifetimes have we been witness to such an acute focus on the weaknesses of our industry. This is the starting point for achieving meaningful change!”
The following speakers addressed the convention, and their presentations can be viewed on YouTube as per the links below.
“The Dangers of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef” — Tracy Hunt, rancher and attorney from Wyoming, kicked off the convention with an in-depth and provoking presentation on the true motive behind the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Hunt’s presentation walked listeners through “the smoke-filled room” — the identity and mission of the GRSB — which, according to Hunt, is a platform to facilitate collusion against beef producers and consumers. Hunt explained that the end game of the GRSB is full vertical integration of the beef industry (as has occurred in the chicken and pork industries). Radio frequency identification (RFID) traceability is the cloaked guise under which this will occur. Hunt goes on to explain that “they” only need two things to start running your ranch: 1) Market concentration and collusion; and 2) Mandatory, full chain, RFID traceability. According to Hunt, mandatory RFID will result in premises registration, recorded cattle movements, unnecessary social and environmental regulations, and third-party compliance verification. Over time, as producers accept these changes as normal, market access will be linked to a compliance certificate. Suddenly the reality becomes clear — “No Compliance Certificate” will equate to “No Market Access.” Further, feedlots will be unable to buy your product because they will be unable to sell it to the packers.
Most interesting may be the forces that are behind the GRSB. GRSB membership is primarily comprised of three segments: 1) “Big Beef” or the beef cartel (the packers consisting of Cargill, Tyson, JBS and Marfrig; who combined control 85% of the fed cattle killed in the U.S.); 2) “Radical Environmentalism” (primarily the World Wildlife Fund – WWF); and 3) “Global Government” (United Nations).
In his presentation, Hunt highlights Jason Clay with the WWF. Among other claims, Clay asserts that “Agriculture has the largest (negative) impact on the world than any other human activity.” He closes interjecting that “Agriculture is the largest threat.” Clay asserts that agriculture’s infractions include deforestation, water usage, production of greenhouse gasses, pollution, and chemical usage. Clay says that, “One of our strategies has always been to take choices away from consumers. Basically, our point is that consumers shouldn’t have a choice about sustainability. We make that happen by getting companies to collude around sustainability” and by getting “companies to only buy sustainable raw materials.” “We need to rehabilitate degraded and underperforming land and take pressure off of natural habitat. You start measuring what matters and you start requiring a third-party verification of that measurement. Once we start measuring stuff, we start managing it.”
Hunt closes the circle as he explains the United Nations is the “Global Government” component of GRSB. The UN organization that governs these issues is the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, which is a member of the GRSB. Hunt notes that while the UN pretends to be an advocate of the livestock industry, several years ago they published a document called “Livestock’s Long Shadow — Environmental Issues and Opinions.” Hunt continues, the document “explains how folks like you — and how eating meat is ruining the planet.” He points out the contradictory nature of the UN’s messages. While the GRSB purports that they are attempting to sell more beef in a responsible way, the UN, which is clearly driving the GRSB’s objectives, is clear on its position related to beef as it has not recanted or retracted any part of “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” Furthermore, the UN has recently rolled out “Act Now,” which is its new climate action campaign that advocates eating less meat in exchange for more plant-based meals. FMD AND BRAZIL
“Foot-and-Mouth Disease Fact-Finding Trip to Brazil” – R-CALF USA Region VII Director (Minn., Iowa, Wis.) Eric Nelson of Moville, Iowa, traveled to the heart of Brazilian cattle country to learn about the risk presented by imported Brazilian beef products; specifically, in regard to foot-and-mouth disease. Nelson left Brazil with two profound conclusions. Brazil’s agricultural economy is booming. Brazil currently has approximately 232 million cattle in comparison to the 103 million in the United States. He asserts that “Brazil will never import beef from anyone,” but they are fierce competitors in the export market.
According to Nelson, FMD is one of the most serious livestock diseases and presents itself in a highly contagious viral form. Vaccine can protect against the disease but does not necessarily prevent it. Nelson explains that “Brazil is a rugged country with few roads, unrecognizable borders and poor law enforcement infrastructure.” Bribery is a problematic commonality in the country. According to Nelson, “There is no way they (the Brazilians) will sequester FMD.” “Halting Government Overreach – R-CALF USA’s Mandatory RFID Lawsuit” — Harriet Hageman, senior litigation counsel, New Civil Liberties Alliance, described as compelling and dynamic, says this of the proponents of mandatory RFID: “Our enemies are in this for the long haul; they play for the long game.”
Hageman, whose father ranched in Fort Laramie, Wyo., and whose great-grandfather ranched in Texas in 1879, understands the plight of the American rancher. She has been a practicing attorney for over 31 years; and, for the past 20 years, has dedicated her life to going into battle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Corps of Engineers and a variety of other state agencies. A few years ago she decided to dedicate her career to the public policy arena. She expresses pride as she explains that she fights for people who may not have been able to afford her in her private practice years. Hageman explains to producers the broad ramification of mandatory RFID. “Radical environmentalism is now being visited upon you. That is what RFID is about.” Hageman holds nothing back, “it is one of the more dangerous things I’ve seen. It exposes an entire industry to complete and total control by the USDA; and, by the people making decisions — trans-national corporations, including packing plants.”
Hageman explains the evolution of the mandatory RFID timeline beginning with the widely disputed 2011 Notice of Rule Making, the 2013 Rule Making, and the 2019 Fact Sheet. She explains how the two-page Fact Sheet was a backdoor approach as it was quietly posted on the USDA website. According to Hageman, the Fact Sheet was illegal and subsequently challenged by R-CALF USA when they hired Hageman’s firm in October of 2019. The Fact Sheet was then immediately withdrawn from the USDA website. The USDA promptly filed a motion to dismiss the suit filed by R-CALF USA. The case was dismissed in federal court in Cheyenne, Wyo.; however, Hageman notes that there was “some good verbiage in the ruling” that will require the issue to go back to the rule-making process. EDUCATING CONSUMERS
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