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R-CALF in Texas

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2/20/2006 11:01:00 AM

R-CALF: CEO Speaks To Texas Cattle Producers

(Cuero, Texas) – During a recent string of meetings in the Lone Star State, R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard addressed more than 170 Texas cattle producers about the need for independent producers to represent their segment of the highly competitive, multi-segmented beef supply chain. Cuero Livestock Commission, in Cuero, hosted the first meeting. Bullard then spoke in Pleasanton. The South Texas Hereford Association, an affiliate organization of R-CALF USA, hosted Bullard’s final meeting at Beeville Livestock Commission, in Beeville.

“While every segment – from the live cattle producer to the packer, importer, exporter, wholesaler and retailer – all share the goals of minimizing risks, maximizing profits, and enhancing competitiveness, only live cattle producers share the goal of minimizing producer risk, maximizing producer profits, and enhancing producer competitiveness,” Bullard said. “To accomplish this goal, producers must join together to ensure they have the tools needed to compete in a competitive marketplace – tools such as Mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling.

“Independent producers need to remove from the hands of the packers the tools packers use to leverage down domestic cattle prices – captive supplies,” he continued. “Independent producers need to make certain that special safeguards are included in trade agreements to protect against price-depressing import surges, and make certain that the U.S. cattle industry continually maintains the highest health and safety standards in the world.

“If producers do not stand together to carry out this pro-producer strategy, neither will anyone else in this multi-segmented beef supply chain, and producers will be out-competed for what should be their competitive share of the consumers’ beef dollar,” said Bullard.

“The meetings went very well,” said R-CALF USA Texas Membership Chair Stayton Weldon. “There were 86 people that showed up in Cuero for the sole purpose of hearing about R-CALF.

“One question asked at the meeting was if R-CALF USA directors set policy, or if the members do,” noted Weldon. “Bill replied that R-CALF follows policy set by the membership.

“One of the biggest issues in Texas is Animal ID, especially for the producer and the sale barn,” continued Weldon. “Producers are worried about producer liability, confidentiality, and costs associated with giving the government the ability to trace back animals with a national ID system.

“People are not as aware as they could be of what is happening in their marketplace,” Weldon commented. “Very few people are dependent solely upon agriculture.

“They do not have time with their other jobs to look at the big picture of agriculture,” said Weldon. “It is good that R-CALF is getting stronger.”

“There was a real good response in Cuero,” said Cuero Livestock Commission Co-Owner Buddy Blackwell. “A lot of people had never heard Bill speak before, and I have had a lot of positive reaction to the meeting since then.

“People are more receptive to R-CALF now – all around the nation,” continued Blackwell. “Anytime representatives from other organizations begin showing up at R-CALF meetings, it shows that they are curious about what R-CALF is doing.

“R-CALF is making very positive statements and this is reflected by the numbers of people who travel from all around to hear Bill speak,” he said. “I work for the cow/calf producer, and his commodity is the stocker/feeder calf. I think that R-CALF works for the same people I work for.”

R-CALF USA Texas Region 9 Membership Chair Bill Meuth organized the meeting at Pleasanton and also sponsored the steak dinner that was served.

“It was the first time R-CALF has been in this area,” said Meuth. “A lot of people had never heard of R-CALF, so we were really pleased with the 50-plus people who showed up.

“We got some real good media exposure,” continued Meuth. “We even got some new members, and I hope to have another meeting down here again.”

“R-CALF USA is the only organization that represents the economic interests of only cattle producers,” said R-CALF USA Southeastern Field Coordinator John West. “Packers have at least two organizations – the American Meat Institute and the National Meat Association – that represent the beef-packing industry.

“NCBA represents all segments of the industry,” West explained. “Being that the live cattle producers are the largest segment of the industry, we need our own organization, and R-CALF provides that.

“The meetings in Texas were a huge success,” continued West. “Texas ranchers are beginning to see the benefits of having an organization that exclusively represents the interests of live cattle producers on a national level.”

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