American Cattle Industry is on the Brink – How did it happen?

It took a sales job and help from USDA

The year was 1996, the National Cattlemen’s Association had just become the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). The new entity included the large meatpackers and some of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. In addition to being robbed by the meatpackers, and feeling sold-out and betrayed by NCA leadership, cattlemen were  furious their $80 million per year beef checkoff had been captured by the new group, with funds they were mandated to pay, now being used against them.

“The visionaries were rolling out their new “Long Range Plan,” designed to make cattle producers more like chicken farmers, and beef more like chicken.”

The visionaries were rolling out their new “Long Range Plan,” designed to make cattle producers more like chicken farmers, and beef more like chicken. After the plan was announced, I had a meeting with the new NCBA CEO, Chuck Schroeder. What I remember most about that meeting, in which I argued against the plan, was having an epic headache.

The above presentations by pitchmen, NCBA CEO, Chuck Schroeder, and NCBA President, John Lacey, were part of the June 2, 1996 Grassroots Cattle Producer’s Forum, sponsored by South Dakota Auction Markets, held in Ft. Pierre.

“The newly formed NCBA and USDA, with their gang of economists, were telling law makers, law enforcers, and producers, all was well.”

Cattlemen were stomping mad. The meatpackers were manipulating the markets, and the call for reform was growing much louder. Iowa Beef Processors (IBP), the largest of the big-four meatpackers, armed with their new market manipulating formula, had hammered the fed cattle market by over $200 per head in the spring of 1994, followed by many other wild bankrupting price swings into 1996. The newly formed NCBA and USDA, with their gang of economists, were telling law makers, law enforcers, and producers, all was well.

Thanks to the NCBA, and a captured and compliant USDA, the American cattle industry is a mere shadow of what it was 50 years ago. Rural Americans are living in poverty in dying communities, pastures and forests are burning for lack of stewardship with grazing livestock, and consumers are more and more dependent on foreign sources for food.

Note: See Herman Schumacher and Johnny Smith’s presentations here. Other speakers, including Leo McDonald, Jim Strain, and myself, will be posted next.

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1 Response to American Cattle Industry is on the Brink – How did it happen?

  1. Sue Thomas says:

    I listen to all the commentaries and the legislation that is proposed and the initiative by the Biden Administration. This my observation from the distance and a broader look at the landscape. There is Agenda 21 and the 30×30 renamed and the objective is the destruction of private property rights and a land grab for corporate profits. The meeting with Biden is smoke and mirrors Another realization is that some of the beef producers are possibly profiting because they are invested with the four packers .It is my assumption why the beef industry in Arizona is so silent on the issues. I have been following many beef producers who are now attempting to sell direct. Unfortunately much of it I would never purchase because it is the same industrialized model. I remember you stating that if they do not wake up it will be too late. The federal government is not the savior. Every legislation coming out of Congress initiated by the Democrats is all for centralized control. Not that I let the Republicans off the hook. I questioned a fast food business at a gathering and the toxicity. The response: It is business.

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