|Dear Mr. President,
This past week, my campaign team and I had the opportunity to spend time in Western Kansas meeting with farmers and ranchers regarding the state of agriculture. After meeting with many individuals in every aspect of the cattle industry, I felt compelled to bring to your attention the dire situation they are in. The facts are clear – something must be done to dramatically change the way livestock are bought and sold in the market.
First of all, I must say that I applaud your order calling for an investigation of the meat packing industry. The day you called for the investigation by the Department of Justice on May 6, 2020 caused the meat packers to adjust prices from $.93/lb to $1.15/lb floor price. An unprecedented $22 per hundred weight (cwt) change in live cattle price in 7 hours, which equates to an average increase of $330 per head! This provided evidence of what we already knew – that cattle pricing is being manipulated by the packers to the detriment of the producers. The packers panicked at the threat of investigation.
The packers are making exorbitant profits while the independent producers are losing the shirts off their back just trying to make a living. The meat packers have a monopoly that calls for anti-trust legislation. Over the last few years, small processing plants have been forced out of business, leaving the processing of cattle to four major companies. If that wasn’t bad enough, the vast majority of these four companies are owned by foreign entities.
As a businessman who values hard work and the American pioneering spirit, it is imperative for the future of our country and the State of Kansas, that we put America First. It is time we put an end to foreign controlled monopolies that are forcing farmers and ranchers out of businesses and way of life.
The food supply chain is critical to our national security. Mr. President, you have done a fantastic job putting America First by making America energy-independent. Now it’s time for America to become food independent. As you have so accurately called for “Made in America” for our medicines and healthcare supplies, we need to stop the influx of foreign cattle. It is time for America to embrace Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).
Our farmers and ranchers have the ability to supply all the beef needed in our country, with beef to spare for export. The supply of beef in the United States is best managed by our American Farmers and Ranchers.
In addition, I would also strongly urge you to investigate the Beef Check-off program, a program that promotes the beef industry. We need to ensure that it is working to the benefit of the producers who are paying the $1.00/head fee when they sell their cattle. It is a travesty that the meat packers enjoy the benefits of this program; however, they are not providing any of the financial support.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored that if we continue to depend on foreign entities for any major aspect of our supply chain, our country will continue to be vulnerable to economic devastation. Cheap imported beef (which often comes from countries that do not have stringent safety requirements) hurts our nation’s farmers and ranchers. The risks of foreign entities having control over our nation’s food chain is dangerous and needs to be addressed immediately.
Kansas ranchers and farmers are a tough, resilient group of people who work hard to feed our nation. However, if something is not done quickly to address the unfair competition they are facing, many of them will not survive.