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NCBA Editorial: Unintended Consequences

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frenchie

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NCBA Editorial: Unintended Consequences
By Terry Stokes - CEO, National Cattlemen's Beef Association

December 23, 2003, was a day each of us will never forget. Our industry has changed and we are struggling to define "normal" in a post-BSE world. What does "normal" mean? Does it mean there are simple answers to complex questions? Does it mean we should maximize short-term gains while sacrificing long-term opportunities? Does it mean questioning the safety of beef to keep from resuming trade based upon sound science? Finally, does it mean keeping our borders closed to trade for short-term profitability for our cattlemen? There are some within our industry who think so.

This short-sighted approach to defining "normal" in a post-BSE world will have unintended consequences for our industry. First, it will result in a decline in consumer demand due to the loss of consumer confidence in the safety of beef. Consumer confidence in the safety of our beef is at an all time high. Nine out of ten consumers believe that our beef is the safest in the world. Since 1997, consumer confidence is 21 percent higher and beef demand has increased 25 percent. This has resulted in an additional $200 per head for our cattlemen.

Are we willing to let recent accusations by a faction of our industry, including a misinformed judge, affect consumer confidence in our product and sacrifice this $200 per head? Today, we have firewalls in place to ensure the safety of our product. Science clearly shows that the removal of central nervous system tissue protects our consumers from BSE. This is not a food safety issue.

We have a cattlemen's activist group within our industry which is risking consumer demand by litigating science to protect their short-term economic interest. There has been no other time in history where a group of our own people disparaged our product for personal gain. The risk is $200 per head.

Secondly, keeping the border closed from Canada will result in continued loss of export markets. We lost $175 per head to our cattlemen when our trading partners halted trade on Dec. 24. Fed cattle prices were $93 cwt. before December 23rd and fell to $78 cwt. afterwards. This occurred because of the loss of export markets. Many of these markets remain closed because of protectionist attitudes within those countries. We are taking the same approach with Canada. Is this the example we want to set for the rest of the world?

A couple of weeks ago, a resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives for sanctions against Japan for not basing trade decisions on science while the Senate passed a resolution to not resume trade with Canada without any basis in science. This is the ultimate hypocrisy. This type of action increases the difficulty of reopening our export markets and regaining the $175 per head we lost December 23rd.

Actions like these clearly have unintended consequences. If we lose the beef demand we have gained in the last eight years by destroying consumer confidence, we will lose $200 per head. If we are unable to regain export markets because we don't make decisions based upon science, we will not regain the $175 per head. Short term we may experience higher prices, but longer term we will experience lower prices and reduced profits.

These unintended consequences jeopardize our future and the future of the next generation of cattle ranchers. Loss of demand means lower prices and fewer cattlemen. Loss of export markets means lower prices and fewer cattlemen. More regulation means more concentration, increased costs and fewer cattlemen. I don't think this is what we want for ourselves or for our children. We want a growth industry that comes from increased demand for our product both here and around the world, which means more cattlemen, higher profits, and a brighter future.

Someone once said, "Every now and then, somewhere, someplace, sometime, you are going to have to plant your feet, stand firm, and make a point about who you are and what you believe in." It is time for us to stand for resuming trade based upon science. It is time to stand for the safety of our product and reprimand those who disparage it. It is time for us to stand firm for who we are and what we believe. Most importantly, it is time to plant our feet and stand firm for solutions that ensure the future of our families and our legacy.

Initiated in 1898, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association is the marketing organization and trade association for America's one million cattle farmers and ranchers. With offices in Denver, Chicago and Washington, D.C., NCBA is a consumer-focused, producer-directed organization representing the largest segment of the nation's food and fiber industry. NCBA works to achieve the vision: "A dynamic and profitable beef industry, which concentrates resources around a unified plan, consistently meets global consumer needs and increases demand."

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frenchie

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Hat said:
CANADA took NORMAL out of all trade with their 4 cases of BSE. PERIOD.
We've finally wisened up enough to diferentiate ourselves from their poor management. YOU will cuss me and the rest of the R-Calfers but until and if we find one you can't paint us with the brush that has ruined your industry. You screwed yourselves out of the cycle, now only the rich will survive, school districts, towns, and small family farms will surely suffer, don't blame it on R-Calf, blame it on yourselves. The loss of small town communities is a burden on all of us, a few packing houses won't solve a thing. YOU that are left are going to be the first pawns of corporate ranching. You've got want you want but I don't thing you'll like what you get.


Yawn...
 

feeder

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Could someone please explain the turn around attitude of the NCBA from now to their convention. What I can remember this doesn't follow their points they stated.
 

Sandhusker

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"...including a misinformed judge"

That's a pretty ballsy statement.

"Secondly, keeping the border closed from Canada will result in continued loss of export markets. "

Nonsense. Absoulute nonsense. Our customers will do whatever is in their best interests regardless of what we do with Canada. Our border with Canada is open for boxed beef - how many countries are taking our boxed beef because of our trade with Canada?

"Is this the example we want to set for the rest of the world?"

When has any country placed our example ahead of what they viewed was best for them in setting trade policy? What about our example of taking Canadian boxed beef?

"A couple of weeks ago, a resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives for sanctions against Japan for not basing trade decisions on science while the Senate passed a resolution to not resume trade with Canada without any basis in science. This is the ultimate hypocrisy."

There is plenty of hypocracy from the USDA to go around. How can the "science based" age of accepting cattle be 30 months for Canada, but 20 for Japan?

" It is time for us to stand for resuming trade based upon science."

I disagree, Mr. Stokes. I think it's pretty obvious from the actions of Japan and Europe that science plays a very small role in their decision making. Why should we keep harping "sound science" when nobody else seems to give it much credence? We need to realize countries will do what is in their best interest regardless - and we should do the same.
 

Tam

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Tell me Sandhusker and Reader what are you telling those countries about your packing industry if you are taking the boxed beef and still not allowing the cattle of the same age in? Could they possbably see it as you don't trust your packing industry to process the same cattle into the safe meat you are importing? :???:
 

Sandhusker

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Tam said:
Tell me Sandhusker and Reader what are you telling those countries about your packing industry if you are taking the boxed beef and still not allowing the cattle of the same age in? Could they possbably see it as you don't trust your packing industry to process the same cattle into the safe meat you are importing? :???:

The answer to your question, Tam, is "NO". Everybody knows what the deal is - pure politics. They know it because they're all doing the same thing. That's why so much of trade rhetoric, the WTO, etc... is so laughable. At the end of the day, every country will do what is in their best interest to do.
 
A

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feeder said:
Could someone please explain the turn around attitude of the NCBA from now to their convention. What I can remember this doesn't follow their points they stated.

Leaves me with the feeling that they kept all the members that were threatening to "walk"- got their dues- and are now saying we can do anything we want to again.... What was it Jan said "We weren't listening to our membership"?
 

HAY MAKER

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Its just a matter of time ,ncba will never recover ,not in the information age,its way to easy to get the facts .The only way I would consider becoming a ncba member is buying a hell of a lot of packer stock,that way I would know IM being represented well...............good luck
 

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